Telehealth Quality Group first conference Manchester 21 June 2016

The Telehealth Quality Group kicks off its campaign to stimulate new thinking around telehealth and telecare with a UK event in Manchester on June 21st. The focus of the event is on ‘Integrated Care’ – the route to which has been exercising strategists, policy-makers, commissioners and those tasked with delivery for some time.

The programme includes the likes of Malcolm Fisk, Kevin Doughty and this editor as well as Dr Laura Ryan of NHS24 … bringing news of the experience in Scotland, and Professor Andrew Sixsmith … bringing practice examples and insights from Canada.

Participants will also learn more about the TQG’s International Code of Practice for Telehealth Services – for which apparently three services are now seeking certification.

Other treats at the Manchester event include sessions that:

• look back and learn lessons from the Whole System Demonstrators;
• consider some of the technological developments and market trends around telehealth and telecare;
• check out developments in Rochdale as they pursue integrated care in the context of Manchester’s new devolved powers;
• draw on the telehealth experience of a West Yorkshire GP; and
• make sure the position of carers and service users is not overlooked.

A potpourri, maybe…and hopefully of interest to readers. Details are on the TQG website here

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…)