Telehealth has the potential to deliver important benefits to the growing number of patients who suffer from long-term conditions. It reduces their likelihood of being admitted to hospital, provides them with more integrated and higher-quality care, and enables them to take more responsibility for managing their own care.
This promise is borne out by the findings of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme1. Set up by the UK’s Department of Health, the programme is the largest randomised control trial of telehealth and telecare in the world.
Despite the findings of the WSD report, health organisations must recognise that the benefits of telehealth do not arise just from buying telehealth equipment.
To realise the full potential of telehealth, health organisations need to take action on three fronts: design and implement systems that integrate care; educate and enthuse patients and staff about telehealth approaches; and ensure staff have the skills to deliver services in new ways and make best use of the technology available.
To find out more about PA’s innovative approaches to telehealth, please contact us now.
Designing more integrated care pathways
Healthcare systems are very fragmented and patients are often confused about how to access services. Implementing telehealth gives healthcare commissioners and providers an opportunity to design and implement more integrated care pathways across specialist secondary care and community boundaries. This integration can improve the quality of information available to support case management, resulting in an improved patient experience.
Communicating the benefits of telehealth
Realising the benefits of telehealth requires patients, carers and clinical teams to behave in new ways. This means healthcare organisations implementing comprehensive communications and education and training programmes for patients and clinicians alike. These programmes should not only promote the telehealth solution, but also train people to use the equipment, help them understand what their readings mean and engage them in managing their own care.
Training staff to deliver services in new ways
Realising the benefits highlighted in the WSD report will only be achieved when patients, carers and clinicians change their existing behaviours and challenge the way services are currently delivered. Community teams will, for example, need to work with an increased awareness of how other parts of the system can be involved in improved care planning.
PA is ideally placed to support the implementation of telehealth solutions. We have extensive experience of supporting the implementation of clinical pathways to deliver out-of-hospital care and the design of medical education and training programmes, workforce changes and patient experience programmes. We also support the development of telehealth business cases and the design of implementation models and frameworks.
We developed the plan for a national virtual health services platform to enable Catholic Health Initiatives, a large US-wide healthcare organisation, to improve the accessibility and quality of patient care.
To find out more about using telehealth to improve services to patients, please contact us now.
1 Find out more about the Whole System Demonstrator report