A key 3millionlives pathfinder site has abandoned its tender for a telehealth contract worth up to £30m over five years, after failing to find a supplier willing to share risk.
Worcestershire County Council and three local clinical commissioning groups make up one of the seven pathfinders identified by the 3millionlives programme.
The pathfinders are meant to identify the first 100,000 of 3m people that the government believes would benefit from the use of telehealth and telecare.
The pathfinder consortia went out to tender for a managed service for assistive technology in January this year, and was due to award the contract earlier this summer.
However, the procurement has been plagued by delays and Rosemary Williams, director of practice engagement and service development at NHS South Worcestershire CCG, told EHI that none of the responses they received from suppliers met their requirements.
"The CCGs in Worcestershire and Worcestershire County Council can confirm that we have received no offers which met the combined risk sharing requirements of the original tender,” she said.
“We are committed to investigating potential telehealth offers and we will be considering telehealth amongst our priorities for development over the coming months.”
The council’s original business case estimated it would save £4.3m and reach 10,000 telehealth users over the course of the contract, expecting a minimum of 1,000 patients in the first year.
Earlier this year, the council’s assistive technology programme manager, Charles Huntington, told EHI that the potential savings would be “non-cashable”, and that he recognised that there were financial risks involved.
“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,” he said.
The 3millionlives project was set up in December 2011 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 huge benefits.
However, the long delayed analysis of the WSD programme – a major randomised control trial of telehealth and telecare set up by the Labour government – has found that telehealth is not cost effective.
Worcestershire was the only pathfinder to have gone out to tender for a telehealth service, and EHI reported in February this year that the pathfinder scheme looked certain to fail to deliver its target of 100,000 users this year.
This is just one of several setbacks that plans to scale-up telehealth have taken recently.
NHS England axed the 3millionlives industry group, set up to promote the government’s effort to recruit patients, last month while it “redefines” its vision for the campaign.
Earlier this month, EHI also reported that NHS East Yorkshire CCG has decided to axe its telehealth service because it is not cost-effective.
In August, O2 Health withdrew its telecare and telehealth devices from the market, due to poor uptake of the service.