Despite claims of apathy over assistive technologies, patients welcome additional support
Despite a recent survey which revealed that fewer than 10% of adults had heard of telehealth and telecare, a 12-month evaluation in Gloucestershire has found 88% of patients would recommend assistive technologies to their friends and family.
While the recent YouGov survey raised concerns over the marketing of systems that help people to stay independent in their own homes for longer, the findings of a trial in Gloucestershire show that where adults are introduced to the technologies, they are embracing them.
After 12 months, research by NHS Gloucestershire has found 85% of users rated the service as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.
It is playing a key role in empowering patients, helping them to understand and manage their condition while also reducing consultations, emergency call-outs and referrals to hospital
The survey was extended to patients across 80 GP practices and asked patients a series of questions regarding the impact of telehealth on the management of their condition. Of the 143 respondents who completed the questionnaire, 76% of users felt telehealth gave them peace of mind and reduced anxiety about their condition, while 65% said it helped them better manage their overall health and wellbeing.
NHS Gloucestershire partnered with Tunstall in 2011 to establish a fully-managed telehealth service for 2,000 patients over a three-year period. The service, which is proving to be one of the largest and most successful GP referral programmes in the UK, has resulted in a majority of the GP practices in NHS Gloucestershire actively referring patients, with more than 420 people already benefiting from telehealth solutions.
Linda Prosser, commissioning director for NHS Gloucestershire, said: “Telehealth complements a range of services that NHS Gloucestershire provides to help people with long-term conditions. It is playing a key role in empowering patients, helping them to understand and manage their condition while also reducing consultations, emergency call-outs and referrals to hospital. Both clinicians and patients are benefiting from the service and it has the potential to help many more people in the future.”
“The beauty of telehealth is that it enables us to identify a potential deterioration of a patient’s condition remotely. It helps patients to understand their own condition a lot better and allows the care system to be more pro-active
Dr Will Haynes, a GP and clinical commissioning group member, said: “The beauty of telehealth is that it enables us to identify a potential deterioration of a patient’s condition remotely. It helps patients to understand their own condition a lot better and allows the care system to be more pro-active. Telehealth enables us to pick up on issues at an earlier stage, allowing the patient to get on with the things they want to do.”
Commenting on his experience during the trial, heart failure patient, Gordon Rawlings, told BBH: “Telehealth is great; it really helps with understanding your health. I find it very comforting. It’s like having your own nurse at home taking your readings and keeping a check on you. It even saved my life when it detected I was having a silent heart attack. I wouldn’t have known until it was too late.”
Gloucestershire is now opening telehealth up to a broader range of people to incorporate patients with other complex conditions such as neurological conditions, anxiety and learning disabilities.
Click here for a report on the YouGov survey.