The government’s Technology Strategy Board has announced £11m funding for telehealth and telecare projects, to take the technology to the next level.

The nine projects to be funded include two-way video conferencing for users and health professionals, using telehealth to promote well-being and integrating personalised digital TV into telehealth.

Each project is being run by a consortium of business, health and social services, and academia.

The Technology Strategy Board will invest £5m in the initiative, with the Department of Health contributing a further £500,000. This will be matched by funding from the companies participating in the research.

Among the projects is a scheme to look at how Kirklees Council’s DigiTV platform, which is already used by more than 70 local authorities to deliver local content to their residents, can be used to support people with long-term conditions, using home monitoring.

Guy Giles, operations director for DigiTV, said: “We are keen to see how television could be used as a feedback loop to the telehealth user in the home.”

He stressed that developments were at an early stage. “There is a vast array of things we can do and we are working within the project to test these ideas out with users and then develop them.

“But the idea overall is to look at how the interactive component of digital TV can be used to provide personalised information back to the user. People tell us that they need information back; television is something that they feel comfortable with.”

The three-year project is a joint venture with Tunstall Group, Fold Housing Association, Housing 12 and the University of Sheffield. Giles said he expected to have some concrete developments within six months. “The pressure is on to produce results,” he said.

Funding for the nine projects is the first investment in research and development by the Assisted Living Innovation Platform, launched in November 2007 to bring together government, business and the research community to address health and care challenges caused by increasing longevity and rising rates of long term conditions.

The TSB’s chief executive, Iain Gray, said “Through our investment in these exciting projects, the Technology Strategy Board is helping to bring together the UK’s world class expertise to research and develop innovative technologies in a key area for the UK.”

He added: “The technologies to be developed will bring social and economic benefits to the UK, and will have global potential.”


Technology Strategy Board