Telehealth – the turning point

Guest blog by John Cruickshank

I was so encouraged to hear Andrew Lansley speak up for the importance of healthcare informatics in his conference speech at the Health Computing event last week in Birmingham.  Indeed the Guardian gave as the headline “Andrew Lansley says telehealth will transform the NHS”.  This is music to our ears and reflects feedback we’ve been getting from government on how seriously they are taking the recommendations in our recent “Healthcare without Walls” report.

Of course, telehealth is not a panacea in its own right – it’s not a single, uniform type of technology; rather it is a targeted approach appropriate to the individual’s needs, combining process, organisational and responsibility changes supported by monitoring and collaboration technologies.  As the publication of the Whole Systems Demonstrator evaluation gets closer, we want to see some crucial barriers to wide-spread adoption of telehealth tackled – demonstrable clinical and financial evidence from the NHS, the alignment of incentives, and overcoming stakeholder resistance.

It’s this matter of stakeholder engagement that will be a central theme of the Telehealth Summit event we’re co-hosting with the RCGPs on 28 June.  We’re excited about the prospect of professional leaders engaging on what must be done to convince sceptics of new ways of working.  The prize is to realise the potential of telehealth in improving the quality and affordability of patient care around the management of long term conditions for the next generation.

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