Cheshire has launched a one-year project to use telehealth to support patients with long-term conditions.

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group will work with technology partner Philips Healthcare to deliver the service, initially at four GP practices in the Lache area of Chester.

The Supported Self Care Champion Project will provide a customised telehealth programme for 960 individuals with multiple long-term conditions, centred around a clinically-led, multi-disciplinary hub.

This group will be split into three different levels of support: 120 people with high-level needs, 240 with mid-level needs, and 600 people who need a low level of support.

Dr Lesley Appleton, clinical lead for long-term conditions, NHS West Cheshire CCG, told Digital Health News that the project was part of The West Cheshire Way.

This is a shared vision to improve the way healthcare is delivered in the area, in particular for people with long-term physical and mental health conditions.

She said: “Telehealth is a way of providing care at, or as close to, home as possible. [The idea is to address] people’s problems as they arise, so their condition does not deteriorate and their need for ongoing GP or other health care consultations are reduced – as is their need for hospital admission.”

She added: “Telehealth addresses our twin local goals of equipping patients with the skills and knowledge to live as independently as possible as well as preventing people with long-term conditions deteriorating to the point where they need to be admitted to hospital.”

Sandra Birnie, head of transformation at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, said the partners chose to work with Phillips because of track record in telehealth and its “good evidence of success in improving health outcomes and reducing admissions to hospital.”

The company’s experience in the area includes a telehealth project in Liverpool where 1,600 patients use the service.

There is the possibility that the one-year Cheshire project will be expanded and the trust and CCG are encouraging users such as GPs, district nurses and patients to become ‘project champions’ to provide peer support to extend the service to other areas of Cheshire.

Birnie said: “The Champion Project will help us to map out the pathways and care coordination objectives, and establish the core service and technology components we may require. 

“Next steps would be to take the self-care programme forward across the health economy; becoming established and embedded as part of the patient care pathway.”