Halton and St Helens – Managing long-term conditions using telehealth
“Telehealth has been a great benefit to me. It helps me manage my condition daily whereas before if I became unwell I would wait another day to see if my condition improved.
Sadly, it never did, and I would end up in hospital for long periods of time. I now know when I’m becoming unwell and it’s acted on immediately.”
Participant in the NHS Halton and St Helens Telehealth Pilot
Approximately 15 million people in the UK have a long-term condition and their management is one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS today. Halton & St Helens Primary Care Trust in Widnes conducted a 12-month pilot to evaluate the benefits of embedding telehealth within its care pathways for people with long term conditions.
The PCT hoped that telehealth would work in conjunction with existing services to achieve better outcomes for patients, improve their experience of care, and achieve greater operational efficiencies thereby increasing its capacity to provide high quality care and support for the growing number of people in the region with long term conditions.
A total of 60 telehealth packages were commissioned from Tunstall Healthcare and offered to patients from three chronic disease areas – heart failure, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and stroke.
Telehealth systems are set up in the individual’s home, and patients are given training on how to use the mymedic unit and associated peripherals to monitor their vital signs and symptoms. Each day, patients take their own blood pressure, oxygen levels, weight and temperature, and answer a series of health-related questions. This information is automatically transmitted in real time down the phone line, via the mymedic unit, to Sefton Careline’s monitoring centre. Here, operators use a triage software platform to view and manage the data received. Clinicians work with staff at Sefton Careline to set up a record for each patient which includes contact details and information on their medical condition, and contains parameters for each patient’s readings. If these parameters are exceeded, operators will receive an alert, and can contact the patient to request that they retake their readings.
- The service generated £48,494 savings over a 12-month period
- 85% of patients improved their understanding of their condition
- 89% of patients said they benefited “a lot” from using the telehealth service
- 76% of patients reduced their anxiety
- Home visits by community matrons were reduced
- Medication compliance increased
- The service prevented patients’ exacerbations
*Evaluation period July 2009 to June 2010, survey of 33 patients
What community matrons had to say
Community Matrons reported that because of the telehealth project:
- Home visits were reduced
- They were better able to prioritise their workloads
- The service prevented exacerbation of their patients’ conditions
- Interaction with Sefton Careline enabled a more preventative approach
- An improved quality of service was offered to patients
- Patients benefited from reduction in anxiety, better medication compliance, increased knowledge and self-management
- Integrated working between health and social care was greatly improved.
Solutions for health
Connected Health is a model for the delivery of healthcare that includes technology in pathways to help make more efficiency use of resources, by enabling healthcare to be provided in the community and empowering patients to take an active role in managing their own health.