A random selection of what’s crossed my screen recently

One of the signs of autumn for this editor is the first email from Flusurvey. This is a brilliantly simple system that sends you an email every week asking if you have flu-like symptoms, then produces a map of the UK that gives advance warnings of epidemics. It costs nothing to join and is a great contribution to public health so why not sign up?. (They also have some exciting developments that may surface soon such as a small device that you blow into the connects to a smartphone and can tell almost immediately if you have flu’.)

Increasingly of concern to this editor, due to his deep involvement in digital health regulation, is who is working out how to regulate self-learning algorithms. It is therefore good to see the issue breaking cover in the general press with this article. For what it’s worth this editor’s view is that as technology begins to behave more like humans, albeit in a much faster, and narrow, way by learning as it goes along, perhaps an appropriately adapted use of the way human clinicians are examined, supervised and regulated, might be most appropriate. Sitting next to an AHSN CIO interested in the topic at a Kings Fund event last week, I was pleased to hear him offer precisely the same suggestion, so perhaps there is a little mileage in the idea. 

DHACA (disclosure: run by this editor) has just renewed its website after a long delay, and will be updating content over the next few weeks. First off is the events page advertising:

Our Digital health safety conference on 7th November at Cocoon Networks, London, is being run jointly with DigitalHealth.London – the MHRA has now confirmed they will present so we have almost all the relevant organisations and experts in the UK speaking at this event which should be essential attendance for all involved with the development and use of digital health & care. Attendance has increased substantially in the past few days so do book soon to be sure of securing a place. Much more, including an almost-finalised agenda, is here.

DHACA Day XV – we are back to our usual location at the Digital Catapult Centre on 10th January where are building an agenda of some extremely interesting speakers. To check out the agenda development and to book in advance, go here.


Call for project presentations for the King’s Fund Digital Health & Care Congress 2017

The King’s Fund is looking for projects to be presented at the Digital Health and Care Congress 2017.

To be accepted, projects must show progress and improvements in at least one of these areas:

  • enabling patients to take an active role in their health and care;
  • improving data sharing and interoperability across the health and care economy;
  • demonstrating the benefits and improving productivity;
  • using technology and data to improve experience and quality of care.

Acceptance is via submission of an abstract, which should not be a sales pitch. Presentations should focus on digital health and care in practice. If you’re a commercial organisation working in partnership with an NHS organisation, you should ensure your NHS partner is available to present.

Note that in a change from previous years, single speakers will not be required to pay congress fees; for projects accepted for presentation, there will be one free speaker place allocated.

More details here.

The Congress will be on 4th & 5th July 2017.

The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday 9 December 2016.

Disclosure: this editor is on the organising committee of the Congress.

Ten years on from the WSD: is the future brighter for telehealth? Can wind farms help?

As Prof Mike Short pointed out recently, 2016 is the tenth anniversary of the start of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme that in retrospect, because of poor trial design, probably slowed the uptake of digital health in the UK more than any other single action. It seems appropriate therefore to look at how telehealth* has fared over that period, and perhaps even more importantly, is poised for the next ten years.

The mistakes of the WSD are well documented (eg here, here & here) – suffice it to say that it proved beyond all reasonable doubt, at least to this editor, that unlike medicine-based interventions, which seem less sensitive to their care pathway, digital health delivers most of its benefit through enabling a different, patient-centred care delivery, so every digital health intervention needs to be evaluated holistically, and in its own care pathway. Sadly over the ten years, much of the academic work looking at the benefits of telehealth has continued to evaluate the technology in the time-honoured way that medicines have been evaluated, with predictably largely equivocal results.

Those of us who have delivered telehealth projects though have a sense of disconnect as, time and again, a focused implementation – not a pilot – in which the staff delivering the service understand that it will be a permanent change for which they need radically to change the way they deliver care, yields huge returns on investments through savings typically in the 50-90% region. (more…)

Events for your diary, your CV and perhaps your bottom line

This editor has recently been overwhelmed by important dates near and far that readers needs to be aware of. Beginning with July, the first networking event for the Long Term Care Revolution SBRI National Challenge will take place in Birmingham on 21st July at the Menzies Hotel, Birmingham. Click here to register. The second networking event will take place on the 28th July at The Thistle Marble Arch. Register here

This SBRI competition aims to stimulate the development of innovative new products, services and systems that disrupt the institutional long-term care model, ensuring that UK businesses are well placed to take advantage of this growing market opportunity. A total of £4m is up for grabs so (more…)

Widespread remote GP consultations getting closer; no shortage of implementation advice

Following our previous item on the topic, on January 16th, Tim Kelsey made it very clear to this editor at a PICTFOR event that the £1b promised to GPs for premises improvement included a strong requirement that GPs also invest in electronic support, including remote consultation technology.

It is therefore particularly pleasing to see in yesterday’s Pulse Today, an item on a Skype trial in Central London that both patients and GPs seem to love. Some key quotes:

Almost all patients surveyed about their experience of the remote consultation service said they ‘would use it again’ (95%).

Although patients were warned that ‘the security of Skype isn’t 100%’, 83% also said (more…)

The NICE way to a long and healthy life

The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) has produced truly excellent draft guidance entitled Dementia, disability and frailty in later life – mid-life approaches to prevention.

As pointed out by David Oliver’s Kings Fund blog, which alerted this Editor to the NICE document, what is particularly exciting about these guidelines are “the principles and linking themes behind them, and the fact that, instead of just advising clinicians, the guidelines include direct advice to the government on health and wider social policy”.

Put another way, this document represents a holistic approach to coordinating the principal health drivers for a long and healthy old age: a major step to helping people achieve the vision of looking forward to old age. The table on page 15 of the draft emphasises just how wide (more…)

Free telecare event in Eccles (UK)

If you are in the Eccles/Greater Manchester area on 11 September (and not attending the Kings Fund International Digital Health and Care Congress or Medical Engineering Centres Annual Meeting and Bioengineering14, both in London), Contour Homes is sponsoring a free, full day North West Telecare Event at AJ Bell Stadium. It will give an overview and showcase latest technologies in telecare for professionals involved in supporting independent at home living. There are talks including Alyson Bell, Managing Director of the TSA, Dawn Thomber of Contour Homes and Tahir Idris of TeleMagenta plus an exhibition. This Editor notes the Tunstall logo (but no speakers); Contour Homes is one of the ‘my world’ introductory sites. PDF with complete information and registration.

Medical Engineering Centres Annual Meeting and Bioengineering14 (UK)

On the off-chance that in the week beginning 8th September there is a reader will not be attending either the AAL Joint Programme Conference in Budapest or the Kings Fund’s International Digital Health & Care Congress (this editor is down to speak at both) how about going to the Medical Engineering Centres Annual Meeting and Bioengineering14 event at Imperial College on 10th & 11th September?

(Note that Telehealth & Telecare Aware is a proud sponsor of the Kings Fund event, enabling readers to receive a 10% discount on entry and dinner.)

MEC 2014 will apparently be the UK’s largest ever gathering of (more…)

The King’s Fund: International Digital Health and Care Congress

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10–12 September 2014 at The King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN


This three-day event at The King’s Fund, now in its fourth year, is a truly international Congress in attendance and speakers. It will showcase new ideas, new research and new innovations in digital health, mobile health, telehealth and telecare around these five topics.

  • Sustaining independence as people age
  • Preventing and managing chronic illness effectively
  • Supporting people with mental health issues
  • Digitally enabling service transformation
  • Innovations in technology

Wednesday’s pre-Congress session begins with lunch, a full day on Thursday concluding with an (optional) dinner and a full Friday. Our own Editor Charles Lowe will be presenting on medical apps during the 11:30 breakout session (the T2F section) at 11:30am Thursday. See here for detailed information on the Congress sessions. PDF summary including keynote speakers.

As TTA is a media sponsor of the Congress, we are pleased to offer our readers a 10 percent discount off pricing for all their registration types, including the Thursday dinner. Click here to automatically obtain the discount.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” take II (UK)

Names again! E-Health Insider today has published a typo-prone summary of a Technology Strategy Board survey of the public’s understanding of “‘health and safety devices”. Unsurprisingly, just as most people would not know what acetylsalicylic acid is (though would be happy to take it when it was called aspirin), so only 10% knew that “‘health and safety devices” meant telecare and telehealth. Not sure I’d get that one right either.

There is better news though. The article also quotes the survey as finding that “38% of people said they did not understand the benefits for both self-care technologies and for health and care apps for smartphones and tablets” which I reckon is fantastically marvellous because it means that 62% of the population did understand the benefits of these technologies, which is a heck of a lot more than I suspect a random sample of GPs would, and shows we have been successful beyond our wildest dreams, especially if those happen to be concentrated in the oldest 62% of the population.

Sadly not all was quite so good as “…the research found that 43% of people would not consider telehealth because they would prefer to be seen by their clinician face to face.” Just as whenever in conversation someone tells me they wouldn’t share their health data, and I’ve asked whether they’d still feel like that if they were lying dying in the street and could be saved only if a clinician had instant access to that data, so I wonder if the question had been posed,  as with our local surgery for non-urgent consultations, “would you prefer to wait 28 calendar days to see your clinician face to face or would you be consider remote consultation within 24 hours”, the answer might be slightly different.

The good side of course is that (more…)

International Digital Health Congress (UK): call for papers

Call for papers due 31 March

The King’s Fund’s International Digital Health and Care Congress has opened their call for speaker papers which showcase new ideas in telehealth and telecare. This year the Congress has widened its focus to include ehealth, mobile health and digital health innovations. Abstracts for oral and poster presentations should be targeted to one of the main topics below:

Sustaining independence as people age.
Preventing and managing chronic illness effectively.
Supporting people with mental health issues.
Digitally enabling service transformation.
Innovations in technology.

Formats for presentations (including PDF) are available at the Congress’ page. More information for the Congress on 10-12 September is available here.

Falling in Torbay – a mine of useful information (UK)

The Kings Fund has just produced a detailed analysis of the total health & social care costs for older people admitted to hospital following a fall in Torbay over a 12 month period.  This should be of serious interest to anyone writing business cases for falls-related technology or generally doing any financial calculations in that area. (Torbay has excellent integration of patient/service user records that enables this analysis to be done with great accuracy).

The headline finding is that the total health and social care costs of dealing with older people who have had a fall that they have had to go to hospital for, in the year after that fall, is almost four times the immediate cost of the unplanned hospitalisation after the fall.  Unsurprisingly, for those who die within a year of the fall, total costs are somewhat higher than for those who survive.  Using the Kings Fund’s figures I calculate that the incremental health & social care cost of a fall is just under £7,000 (which includes both the immediate hospitalisation cost and the following years’ costs, less the previous year’s costs). This of course ignores the costs to the individual, their family and community.

Many readers will by now doubtless be wondering whether the costs of falling were reduced for those fallers who were Torbay Lifeline users as conventional wisdom is that the cost is very dependent on the length of time someone remains on the ground before being rescued.  Sad to report that analysis was not done (see comments on the paper – I have requested it). Nevertheless it is a brilliant resource for anyone looking for cost information on this very important topic.