Telehealth trial at extra care housing scheme reaches climax

Positive early results from first extra care telehealth deployment

The first telehealth pilot project based at an extra care housing scheme has been completed.

Six residents at Briar Croft, which is managed by Orbit Heart of England Housing Association, took part in the pilot, which aims to reduce GP and hospital visits and improve the quality of life.

The telehealth technology allows vital health checks such as blood pressure, weight, and ECG readings to be carried out and sent electronically to GPs without the need for patients to make an appointment or visit a clinic. People are taught to do the tests themselves using a small unit and the measurements are automatically sent to a monitoring centre via a telephone line. If the data moves beyond individually-set parameters for each patient, the local GP practice is alerted and appropriate action can be taken.

Instinctively, telehealth feels the right thing to be doing, but it is important to make sure it fits in with the systems we currently use to make it safe and reliable

Commenting on the pilot, Dr Cristina Ramos, partner GP at Rother House Medical Centre, said: “Telehealth has helped us to monitor patients with certain conditions more closely. This has enabled us to pick up and treat symptoms promptly, which may help to prevent admission to hospital for patients in certain circumstances."

Philip Withers was among the residents taking part in the project. He added: “The daily telehealth checks gave me peace of mind to know that should something change with my health, my GP would be notified. I am a carer myself, so it was comforting to know that someone was checking on my health. It’s important that I am fit and well.”

The study was a partnership between Orbit Independent Living, Rother House Medical Centre, Docobo, Baywater Healthcare (formerly Air Products Homecare); and Choice Health Care Group.

Tom Ganner, practice manager at Rother House Medical Centre, said: “Instinctively, telehealth feels the right thing to be doing, but it is important to make sure it fits in with the systems we currently use to make it safe and reliable. There is no doubt that as technology improves, with patients and clinicians gaining more confidence in these systems, telehealth and telecare will play an increasing role in healthcare provision.”

We find that patients respond well to being given an opportunity to self-monitor their health and this has a positive effect on their sense of wellbeing

There are currently 15 million people in the UK suffering from conditions that cannot be cured, but can be managed through medication. It is these patients who can be remotely monitored by doctors and nurses who will be able to view patients’ vital signs. These patients take up three quarters of all inpatient bed days, two thirds of all outpatient appointments, and more than half of all GP visits, accounting for around 70% of the total spend on health and social care.

Shawn Lainchbury, business development manager at Baywater Healthcare, said:“Telehealth services have enormous potential to reduce demand for hospital beds. The service provided to residents at Briar Croft is designed to be easy to operate. It is totally managed and links directly to Rother House Medical Centre so patients can be sure to get any attention they need. We find that patients respond well to being given an opportunity to self-monitor their health and this has a positive effect on their sense of wellbeing.”

Results from the study will now be collated.

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