Somerset plans 4,000 telehealth users

Image: The Safe Mobile Care 'phone'

NHS Somerset is planning to monitor the symptoms of 4,000 people living with long-term conditions over the next three years, using technology from Safe Patient Systems.

The programme will be one of the largest roll-outs of telehealth monitoring outside the national whole system demonstrator project, and will focus on people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease, and diabetes.

The Safe Mobile care System, which was developed by a consultant surgeon, David Morgan, works by providing patients with a touch-screen mobile phone-style device, which is programmed with personalised care plans from its web-based application software.

The system prompts patients to complete questionnaires and capture relevant vital signs, using connected mobile devices. Responses are sent to triage management software that analyses the results and sends an automatic alert to a nurse or doctor if they indicate cause for concern.

Clinical staff can then advise patients on any action they should take. The system was piloted by NHS South Birmingham and has already been bought by NHS Bristol, which awarded the company a £1.4m contract last July.

Mark Doorbar, chief executive of Safe Patient Systems, said: "The simplicity of the Safe Mobile Care system is a key strength.

"It is quick and easy for healthcare professionals to ‘prescribe’ individual care plans from the system’s web-based Triage Management software that are then instantly uploaded to the touch-screen mobile device.

"Patients like the fact the device is mobile and easy to use. It has multiple language options and easy-to-follow voice instructions to make it accessible to people of all ages and ethnicities: in fact, the average age of current users is 76."

The government is now promoting telehealth and telecare as a way for clinical commissioning groups to cope with an aging population living with a growing burden of chronic disease.

It is running a 3millionlives campaign with a number of industry bodies to stimulate the market over the next five years. However, there is concern that the full results of the whole system demonstrators have still not been published.

A number of other large and high-profile telehealth programmes - not involving Safe Patient Systems - have also experienced problems in recruting patients.

Last updated: 8 May 2012 08:41

Lyn Whitfield

4 May 2012

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