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Lessons learnt from a telehealth deployment

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A new IDC Health Insights study, “Empowering Patients and Improving Quality of Care: Telehealth and Telecare in Cornwall”, looks at how the Cornwall local council and National Health Services (NHS), together with their partner BT, sought to address the challenges faced in providing care to Cornwall citizens.
The new study also looks at how BT has worked with both institutions to provide telecare and telehealth solutions to meet the needs of providers and consumers. Leveraging the analysis of the project, it also provides a series of recommendations for healthcare providers that want to adopt telehealth/telecare solutions.
Cornwall is one of the most economically disadvantaged counties in England, with a dispersed rural population that is aging and with a significant incidence of limiting long-term illness. Traditionally in England, social services are within the remit of local government, whereas healthcare is provided by the NHS. Each operates in separate ways.
In Cornwall, the NHS and local council decided to develop an integrated care model. BT was selected as the lead partner to work with the county on the telecare (as a social service) and telehealth (on behalf of NHS) components in these integrated care systems.
Telecare and telehealth systems allow patients to receive care while at home or in the community by combining a series of technologies including desktop, mobile, medical devices to measure and monitor physiological parameters (temperatures, blood pressure, tissue oxygenation, weight, etc.), sensors, patient information management, and IT and professional services.
Through a managed service delivery model, the BT Cornwall partnership enables people such as the elderly and patients with chronic diseases to live independently and securely in their own homes and actively manage their conditions.
IDC chose this case study as a best practice example of the use of telecare and telehealth because it demonstrates how data derived from telecare and telehealth solutions can be used to generate significant value in terms of care quality and patient safety. According to the new report, Cornwall’s telecare and telehealth solutions:
* Demonstrate the principle of how the deployment of information and communications technology (ICT) can act for the benefit of patients, clinicians, and administrators in a rural and remote part of the UK.
* Illustrate how a local authority, a local healthcare provider, and relevant IT partners can work together using new measures to develop specific solutions to address problem areas; and in doing so they can produce better outcomes and address the cost challenges facing all service providers today.
* Show how modern ICT enables creative solutions to be developed and deployed even in the most challenging areas of health and social care.
“Telehealth and telecare should be seen as long-term strategic investments that require a multidimensional approach,” say Silvia Piai, senior research manager at IDC Health Insights, and Mike Cansfield, associate vice president at IDC EMEA Telecom. “Healthcare providers that want to leverage the benefits offered by telecare and telehealth solutions should plan the deployment as a key part of an end-to-end integrated care strategy that takes into consideration overall business objectives, new process technology, and organisational aspects.”
Key lessons learned from the implementation include:
* Redefining processes is the route to embedding telecare and telehealth in care pathways.
* Information management is key to support integrated workflows and compliance to patient data privacy and security regulations.
* Involvement and support of the key decision makers and stakeholders is crucial.
* Investing in patient training is necessary.
* Workloads and responsibilities need to be redefined to establish the right amount of incentives to facilitate the transition toward the new model.