NHS Telemedicine Trial To Continue

More Islands’ medical patients could benefit from using self-care technology to support them in managing their health.

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly is continuing to roll out its telehealth programme over the next five years.

Scilly with Cornwall was one of just three sites to trial the technology which monitors vital signs such as blood pressure and oxygen levels according to the patient’s condition.

Patients have described it as “like having a little nurse sitting on my shoulder”.

It was trialled on patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or bronchitis, heart failure and diabetes with good results.

The trial showed that, if used correctly, telehealth can deliver huge benefits for patients including a 15% reduction in A&E visits, a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, and a 14% reduction in the need for planned admissions.

More strikingly they also demonstrate a 45% reduction in mortality rates.

In Scilly it’s felt that the technology means off-island patients with certain conditions may not need to visit St Mary’s Health Centre or be seen by travelling healthcare professionals so frequently.

The Primary Care Trust is also looking to exploit the local roll-out of superfast broadband.  That will allow remote consultations so some patients will be able have face-to-face video discussions with clinicians without the need for travel.

Superfast broadband isn’t expected in Scilly until 2014, after the Cornwall and Isles Of Scilly Primary Care Trust is abolished under health changes.