Two major launches for O2 in two weeks… First Help at Hand and now, at the Healthcare Innovations Expo, Health at Home – no wonder there were no ‘health’ mentions at the earlier launch. According to the press release, Health at Home’s secure platform allows health care professionals to “monitor patients’ readings, set bespoke symptom surveys, provide educational materials and communicate with them directly. Patients are provided with a tablet computer connected to the mobile network and pre-loaded with the Health at Home software as well as relevant smart monitoring devices including pulse oximeters, weight scales and blood pressure monitors.” Data is uploaded to O2’s servers where it is accessible to the professionals and to the patients “to learn more about their condition and how to manage it”. The charge is per patient per month with no upfront cost. Press release (PDF). Health at Home website.
O2 being what it is, we assume that the in-tablet software is CE marked (as it sounds like it would be counted as a medical device) and that O2 has all patent issues covered with the likes of Bosch. It would be nice to have those points confirmed.
What o2 has is a high street presence – where they can show their wares off. In 20 years time certain current bigger players in the Telehealth market will not be remembered and O2 will be seen as the pioneers of these technologies and the first to get them to a mass market.
If the ‘provided tablet’ allows users to also access the Internet for personal use then it is job done. If it doesn’t then they have missed a trick as the Health at Home software is available for all other platforms for the HCP to access on.
Excellent news for Telehealth. Now all they have to do is sell the idea to the HCPs. Simple
Much as I applaud competition, I struggle to see how different the O2 proposition is to the existing propositions (and products) available from specialist companies such as Telehealth Solutions. I suspect that the format of an Android tablet built to Medical Devices standards and with fully validated software will replace the specialist boxes supplied by Tunstall, Bosch, Intel and Philips, but this might give commissioners a real problem in deciding between different platforms. It wont be easy to compare the quality of the clinical algorithms nor the monitoring centre support, so perhaps the decision will be based on trust. Should companies that provide us with communications – BT, Vodafone, O2, Virgin, and EE – be any more than bit carriers? Are they compassionate organisations that we can trust with sensitive data, or are they the same type of company that would jump at the chance of privatising the NHS?
Irrespective of the issue of trust, it is clear that the emergence of these new telehealth services is going to force prices down while demystifying the technology. That must be a good thing and a couple of steps on the path to removing the need to use expressions like telehealth and seeing the technology as no more than an example of connected health. The fact that O2 and CDDFT chose to launch at NHS Expo rather than wait for the TSA conference in November could be another nail in the coffin of the old model and its framework straightjacket.
Whilst having the same reservations about the mobile infrastructure as for their telecare services well done O2 for this development based on clinical partnerships. But for me the biggest plus is that they have included the patients in here – the quotes from Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association are spot on … how refreshing.