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Orkney partnership deploys telehealth for patients with long-term conditions

Tunstall Group : 13 September, 2010  (Application Story)
The health and social care partnership, Orkney Health and Care is launching a telehealth service using advanced solutions from Tunstall Healthcare to enhance healthcare delivery for patients with long-term conditions, such as chronic heart disease and chronic lung disease.
Telehealth enables patients with long-term conditions to measure their vital signs in their own homes, helping to reduce the need for them to travel to health centres for routine check-ups. This is also aimed to benefit healthcare providers in NHS Orkney, where the rural geography means that GPs and nurses often need to visit patients by ferry.

By remotely monitoring patients' vital signs on a daily basis, it is hoped that Telehealth will reduce avoidable travel and help ensure the best use of health resources.

Telehealth deployments across the UK have shown that daily health monitoring helps patients to understand their condition, reduce anxiety, and ultimately prevent unnecessary hospital admissions. In addition, increased communication with patients via the phone helps to promote a more preventative approach to the management of long-term conditions.

Keith Farrer, NHS Orkney Consultant Nurse and Clinical Lead for long-term conditions, said: “We are already using video consultations for patients that have a number of different long term conditions, and Telehealth is the next step for helping other patients with long-term conditions. Due to our rural locality I expect to see Telehealth reduce the need for patients to travel to their health centres for regular checkups therefore reducing the burden of travel. It will also help some patients to better understand how to manage their illness.”

Orkney Health and Care is using Tunstall's icp integrated care platform, including mymedic and icp triagemanager, which are designed to support integrated, fully managed and patient-centred care. The patient simply uses the solution to measure their pulse, blood oxygen rate, weight, temperature and are asked a series of health related questions.

The information is automatically transferred either by traditional landline connections or over GPRS mobile networks. Voice and visual prompts help guide the patient through their health session making it easy for any user.

The data is then automatically collected by NHS Orkney's clinical staff in real time. This makes the process easier for patients to manage, and also ensures that healthcare staff get instant access to the results, enabling them to monitor the patient's condition daily to provide timely, preventative care when needed.

Matt Marshall, Director-Healthcare for Tunstall, said: “Momentum for Telehealth has been growing over the last few years there is increasing pressure on NHS services and a need to look for innovative ways to manage long-term conditions. Telehealth is well suited to the remote location of Orkney, and will play a pivotal role in helping transform care delivery and to benefit patients and healthcare providers alike.”
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