NHS North East Essex has announced that it plans to install 40 telehealth units by September in a pilot project with telehealth equipment supplier Tunstall.

The primary care trust hopes the units will reduce emergency hospital admissions and improve the quality of life of patients with long term conditions.

The pilot will involve patients with heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and others who have just been discharged from hospital and been identified as potentially benefiting from the system.

Tracey Buckingham, project manager at NHS North East Essex, said: “The pilot will be set up to examine how telehealth monitoring could help community nurses manage their caseloads efficiently and keep patients out of hospital.

"This equipment will be piloted in five different scenarios and settings to allow us to assess which areas demonstrate the most success.”

Community, COPD and heart failure specialists will have access to 25 monitoring devices for 12 months.

These are intended to help them manage their caseloads, prevent readmissions, and enable earlier discharge from hospital.

Another 15 units will be made available to community matrons to place in nursing and residential homes and in pharmacies to allow regular monitoring of patients referred by their GP.

Buckingham added: “Most patients would prefer to remain in their own home and remote telehealth monitoring gives them reassurance that their condition is being managed during periods of uncertainty.

"In addition, patients may find that using the machine increases their knowledge and motivates them to be more involved in self-management of their health.”