Worcestershire County Council believes it can save more than £4m by using telehealth, according to a business case for investment.

The council issued a tender notice for an assistive technology supplier in January this year, with a contract value of between £10m and £30m over five years.

The council’s business case says it will identify 1,000 patients in the first year and 1,000 in the next to recruit to the new service.

If this delivers benefits, a second stage project will be implemented that will see the number of users increase to 10,000 over five years.

According to the business case, the financial impact of implementing stage two could be a total saving of £4.3m.

“This is a full-year cost and benefit to health for a fully managed telehealth service for 10,000 patients,” it says.

All savings will be “non-cashable” and calculated as: “40% savings on emergency admissions, 30% savings on A&E attendances, 30% savings on ambulance call-outs and 30% savings on outpatient appointments."

The council, together with three clinical commissioning groups, is one of the 3millionlives pathfinders that are supposed to each enrol 10,000 telehealth users by the end this year.

The 3millionlives project was set up to kick-start the industry with the support of Prime Minister David Cameron, who said that ‘headline findings’ from the whole system demonstrator project showed telehealth could deliver big benefits.

The WSD programme was set up by the Department of Health specifically to make the case for telehealth and telecare technologies. However, a series of research papers have cast doubt on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the technologies involved.

A recent economic analysis of the trial, published in the BMJ, found the technology was not cost effective. Despite this, the Worcestershire business case for both a telecare and a telehealth service cites the WSD programme in support of its investment.

“This detailed business case has been written on the principle that telehealth cost benefits will contribute to savings for health and be paid for by health,” the paper says.

“The Worcestershire detailed business case assumptions for telehealth are weighted towards the best case scenario, because these are the savings that the strategic partner considers to be achievable."

However, it recognises that there are "financial risks" to the telehealth part of the programme, if not the alarm or telecare element.

When asked about the tender, Charles Huntington, the council’s assistive technology programme manager, told EHI: “We are seeking a risk sharing arrangement with our managed service provider, where payments are based on delivery of benefits both in terms of patients and also financially.”

The business case was approved by the council’s ‘Better Outcomes, Lean Delivery’ programme board in December last year. The council expects to award the contract in August.