The future of telehealth technologies
The growing body of evidence on the use of telecare and telehealth should be treated with caution, according to Professor Stanton Newman, Dean of City's School of Health Sciences.
Professor Newman told the International Telehealth and Telecare conference that academics need time to explore this relatively new area: "It is important to recognise that evidence in healthcare occurs progressively and a careful analysis of research findings, both negative and positive, is crucial so that findings can be built on where appropriate."
Speaking to an audience of practitioners, healthcare managers and policy makers, Professor Newman also said that many of the studies available were too small to provide reliable information and called for more large-scale studies which consider the organisational challenges that telehealth and telecare present.
The use of telehealth and telecare technologies for the self-management of chronic dieseases has become a hot topic in healthcare and Professor Newman has been at the forefront of research in this area.
In 2011 he led the Department of Health's Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) study, which showed, if delivered properly, telehealth can reduce mortality and the need for admissions to hospital, lower the number of bed days spent in hospital and the time spent in A&E.
Advancing Care Coordination and Telehealth Deployment (ACT) programme
Professor Newman has been heavily involved in in the recently launched Advancing Care Coordination and Telehealth Deployment (ACT) programme.
The ACT programme is an EU-funded, pan-European, study which has brings together healthcare authorities, clinical experts, industry partners and universities, including City, to explore the organisational and structural processes needed to successfully implement care coordination and telehealth (CC&TH) services on a large scale.
In the EU, 10 million people suffer from heart failure, 20 million have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 60 million live with diabetes. Each year, these three conditions cost EU health systems around EUR 125 billion. In England, the management of chronic conditions accounts for approximately 69% of all primary and acute care budgets.
However, Care co-ordination and Telehealth services, have the potential to greatly reduce the burden on healthcare systems, but have not yet progressed substantially beyond pilots and test installations. It is hoped that the ACT programme will be able to uncover the barriers to implementation of CC&TH services enabling the production of a 'best practice toolkit'.
The ACT programme has been running for six months and Professor Newman has been encouraged by the progress it has made, he said: "Our five reference sites (Scotland, Groningen, Lombardia, Catalonia and Basque Country) have experience of delivering CC&TH and are likely to be able to provide evidence of what best practice should look like.
"The challenge for the ACT programme will be translating evidence into practice which is a complex process and in many cases will require not only a significant organisational change but also a behaviour and attitudinal change for patients and clinicians alike."