Will there be more remote consultation pilots than BA has, as well?

News comes via Prof Mike Short of another remote consultation pilot planned – this time the ELECTOR project involving Denmark, UK and the Czech Republic. As it seems to have no website yet, we can only offer a Twitter handle. There’s also info on the Brit in the video on the above link, Dr Anthony Leeds, on the University of Surrey website, (explaining that he has recently been appointed a Visiting Professor at the University of Copenhagen).

This information comes a few days after the previous remote consultation pilot we covered that was featured in Pulse. Is this reviewer being unduly pessimistic in wondering whether we are about to suffer the same pilotitis that afflicted telehealth that led to the original “more pilots than BA” jibe? If so, what can be done?

Well one obvious cause of the problem is the procurement rules that force small companies, in particular, to engage in ‘trials’ with the NHS/local councils that are then gradually expanded. The alternative of a major immediate sale is very quickly caught by competitive tendering requirements that small companies are at a huge disadvantage in. The tender this editor ran in Surrey for example, originally for £3.9m of telehealth equipment, took over a year from gaining agreement on requirements through tender completion to first delivery. In addition it required significant efforts from the final shortlisted organisations, and, as is unavoidable for such tenders, required evidence of a number of previous successful implementations, which small companies by definition often struggle with.

Clearly the EU’s public sector tendering rules do limit flexibility, however as a European Commission “expert” project reviewer, this editor has seen many occasions when the rules are interpreted very differently in other countries. Also, as was the case in Surrey, the council or NHS organisation usually has limits above which a full competitive tender is necessary that are substantially below those required by EU legislation, too

This is one of the areas that the organisation that this editor is Managing Director of – DHACA – is seeking to improve, to enable the NHS to innovate more successfully and avoid pilotitis. Membership is still free.

Another view on adoption comes form the recently produced Chilmark Research paper 2014/15 Clinical Patient Engagement Market Trends Report which is summarised by Jonah Cornstock in Mobihealthnews. This report, focusing on the US, seems to be suggesting a Mexican standoff between patients, clinicians and vendors that the report’s author, Naveen Rao, reckons will need 18 months to two years to be resolved. That said the conclusions quoted look to be pretty weak and without any clear action suggestions to overcome the impasse; not the sort to encourage this editor to splash out $6,000 to read more.

The crazy thing is that, again as we have reported before – and many times – there are already many organisations delivering a remote consultation service as business as usual, including in the UK Dr Mortons, Babylon and of course the 3G Doctor in the UK/Eire, and the likes of American Well, Doctor on Demand (and many others) in the US. NHS patients can now also consult remotely, notably if their practice is part of the large London Hurley Group. And Harry Longman informs us that two practices will be going live with askmyGP in the next few weeks.

Perhaps when the NHS sorts out procurement there’ll no longer be a need to make unflattering comparisons with BA?

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