The 3millionlives’ pathfinder programme, supposed to deliver 100,000 telehealth users by the end of this year, has been scrapped.

The scheme was the first step in the Department of Health’s project to kickstart the market by recruiting 3m people onto telehealth and telecare schemes by 2017.

NHS England took over responsibility for the programme in April and EHI reported last month that the pathfinder programme was under review.

A spokeswoman from NHS England said that the pathfinder programme, which has struggled to gain traction since it started, was part of the old DH delivery model.

“The expectation of 100,000 patients benefiting from telehealth by the end of 2013 was intended as an ambition rather than a target, and was based on the old ‘pathfinder’ delivery model introduced under the DH in 2012,” she said.

“We have therefore, with their help, radically overhauled the delivery model, moving to a model where we focus on where energy already exists locally for delivery of 3millionlives, so that we can harness it and build upon it.”

When the scheme was launched in late 2012, health secretary Jeremy Hunt identified seven pathfinders, which were expected to have 100,000 telehealth patients by the end of this year.

However, the decision to scrap the pathfinder programme is unlikely to come as a surprise to many. In February this year, EHI reported that the scheme looked certain to fail to deliver its target, as only one of the seven pathfinders was able to provide figures on how many patients it planned to enrol.

At the time, only one of the pathfinders, Worcestershire County Council and three clinical commissioning groups, had gone out to tender for a telehealth service. In September this year, that pathfinder abandoned its tender after failing to find a supplier willing to share risk.

In an interview with EHI last month, NHS England’s director of business improvement and research, Steve Fairman, admitted that one of the reasons why the pathfinder scheme has struggled was the lack of support the seven sites have received.

“Part of this is about the fact that a number of the pathfinders lost impetus at the time of organisational change because key staff ended up in the wrong place,” he said.

NHS England has since April worked to “redefine” 3millionlives and will publish a delivery plan for the programme in April next year.