Seminar report: Telehealth, telecare and new technologies in UK healthcare

When we gave some free publicity to the Telehealth, telecare and new technologies in UK healthcare seminar organised by the Westminster Health Forum (supported by Bosch, but costing £190 to attend) I noted that “the most relevant of the web links appear to be broken”. It seems that this standard of organisation continued into the event itself. Despite the gift of a press pass, I’m sorry to say that the reporter who went on behalf of Telecare Aware came away frustrated by the event. Here are some comments for the organisers or anyone else intending to run such an event:

  • 15 speakers in 4 hours (5 mins speaking, 5 mins questions) turns into a ‘death-by-PowerPoint-fest’ with presenters racing through their slides
  • targeting publicity to avoid a mis-match between the speakers and the audience would not go amiss. In this case many in the audience knew as much as the speakers
  • a 20 minute break (squeezed down to 15) is not long enough and small things – like not providing biscuits with the coffee (tough on people who skip breakfast to arrive in time for the start) – matter
  • a post-event networking opportunity should be fully publicised in advance so that people do not plan to run off straight after the event

In sum, it was a manic morning where the few speakers with something new to say did not get long enough to expand on it.

Readers can download our reporter’s notes on the presentations (PDF 4 pages) here. These unofficial notes come with a ‘health warning’. He said “Trying to listen, understand, type and read what was on the screen was not easy!”

Categories: Events - Reports.


  1. David Doherty, 3G Doctor

    EU wide of the bar again…

    Thanks for this Steve and sorry to hear of your bad experience [I wasn’t the person who attended – sorry that wasn’t clear -Steve], some very good suggestions I hope they’ll work on.

    First point I’d like to make is that it’s amazing that “Johan Maghiros Head of EU Commission” can’t see the opportunity in patient data:

    “Note: If you store all people’s data from birth then you end up with a lot of data that no one is going to use.”

    In a 1000 billion Euro Health market this storage is cheap and would easily pay for itself.

    Imagine the potential for public health initiatives if we could follow the patient outcomes of populations based on interventions? Imagine working in research for a rare disease (e.g. CJD) and having such plentiful data sets to work on? The possibilities are endless… not appreciating them is negligent.

  2. David Doherty, 3G Doctor

    Some minor points re the presentations

    “Sally Anne Pygall – Telephone Consultation Services” is ill informed about the reality of GP training: “GPs do not receive any telephone training” is not the case. The RCGP has been doing this for years. Next course for any GP:

    “David Sinclair – National Longevity Centre” is counting on unreliable and outdated stats when he claims “7 out of 10 older people have never used the internet”. Pew Research have much more positive stats on this.

    Dr Nick Robinson: I wonder if his “51.7 million people accessed the service on the WEB” made any attempt to identify repeat visitors? I think he would be more accurate if he’d said “we had 51.7million visits to our website”

    [Thanks for these observations. I should have pointed out in the main item – will do so – that the reporter gave a ‘health warning’ about the notes. He said “Trying to listen, understand, type and read what is on the screen was not easy!” Steve]

  3. Guy Dewsbury

    London Telecare Group event

    I have just returned from the London Telecare Group’s market place event where telecare providers have stalls and show their wares and talk to potential customers.

    It is amazing how an event organised on a shoe string can attract so many key people and provide a networking event as well as a chance to look at what is new in the telecare world.

    I was at the Westminster event as well but this was far better in every respect and only cost me my tube fare. Amazing value and time well spent.

    Well Done Doug, June and John from the London Telecare Group for organising such a good event.

  4. Sally-Anne Pygall

    Sally-Anne Pygall Presentation

    Dr David Doherty has commented that I said GPs did not receive any training in telephone triage and that I was “ill informed”. As my script for the seminar will show, what I said was “We know that telephone triage is on the increase in most GP practices, yet, apart from GP’s out of hours placement, they receive no mandatory training.” In other words, there is training available but it is not mandatory. Also, the link provided to the RCGP course is in fact a course I am runnning for the RCGP.

    The reporters comments on the presentations say that during my speech I made ‘wild claims’ about the cost savings. I would not be so unprofessional as to make unsubstantiated claims. If the reporter or anyone would like to see where these figures came from I would be happy to provide the information.

  5. Steve Hards, Editor

    Sally-Anne Pygall

    @Sally-Anne Pygall

    To be fair to David Doherty, he was responding to the notes which came with a strong ‘health warning’ owing to the haste with with they were put together by the correspondent.

    I’d be delighted if you could point us to the cost savings data, and I’ll edit the pdf notes to remove the wild claims comment.


  6. Sally-Anne Pygall

    Telephone Triage Speech

    Thank you Steve. I will accept that perhaps I was unfair to David Doherty but perhaps he should have also noted that his comments were based on your reporter’s comments and not directly from attending/listening to my speech.

    The figures I quoted were from a cost benefit analysis based on the following information:

    Cost Benefits of Improved Triage Skills (Out of Hours)

    If we assume an average reimbursement of £60.00 per hour for each doctor, we can calculate the approximate cost of each call, each PCC visit and each home visit.

    The average triage time of 7.1 minutes (Unit Costs of Health and Social Care 2008 for ‘in hours’ GP telephone triage call length) would mean that in a 6 hour shift, a doctor could triage 8 calls an hour.

    However, given breaks between calls, call volumes and tri role duties, it would be fair to assume no more than 45 calls would be triaged in a 6 hour period. This would equate to a cost of £8.00 per call if the outcomes was advice (TADV) only. From my experience, however, most clinicians do not triage more than 6 calls an hour on average during a 6 hour shift, which would make the cost of each call £10.00.

    If patients require a face to face consultation following telephone triage, the average clinic appointment time is 10 minutes. The cost of a clinic appointment will be £20.00 per patient (triage plus clinic time) whilst the average home visit of 20 minutes would equate to a cost of £30.00 (triage plus visit time).Diverting 1000 inappropriate home visits (i.e. where the patient did not clinically need a home visit)to advice only or a clinic, would save approx £20,000 – £30,000.

    As I said, the costings are based on figures from the Unit Costs of Health and Social Care 2008. This is information commissioned by the DH. I hope therefore it is acceptable.