Telehealth solutions

Given its size and prominence, the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is the single most significant issue in the healthcare IT market, and Connecting for Health the industry’s principal public sector stakeholder. Intellect, the UK trade association for the IT, telecoms and electronics industries, has also been keen to focus on Health IT issues that are beyond the scope of NPfIT, and the activities of the Health and Social Care and Telehealth subgroups has been at the forefront of this agenda.

The group’s interests
The Health and Social Care Group is primarily interested in the benefits to be accrued from joined-up health and social care services. In March the Group published a paper, “Call for Joined-up Services”, which argued that integrated health and social care IT solutions would increase the cost-effectiveness and quality of care provision.
    
The Group is currently in the early stages of developing a new position paper that will focus on the care practitioner’s perspective of joined-up social care and healthcare, and the practicalities of delivering care into the home and community. The paper will look at the practical application of ICT to support data capture and dissemination in PCTs, social services, smart homes, and the private sector. For example, telemonitoring, mobile computing, information assurance, management and security.

Telehealth
Telehealth includes a range of equipment and services, from community alarms to vital signs monitoring, linked from a care user’s home to a remote clinician who can monitor a user’s long-term conditions.
    
The telehealth sector has been gathering momentum in recent months as a result of the increasing attention being given to novel forms of service delivery by healthcare providers.
    
The advantage of telehealth solutions is that they can improve the quality of care service users receive whilst reducing provider costs and hospital admissions, and these benefits are prompting Primary Care Trusts to show greater interest in the market. The introduction of Preventive Technology Grants, allocated to Councils with Social Care responsibilities, has also provided a signifi- cant boost to those in the telehealth sector, providing as they do a welcome revenue stream for the uptake of telehealth solutions.
    
Intellect’s Healthcare Group is the main forum for IT companies that supply products and services to the NHS, the Health Services of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With over 230 member companies, the group encompasses a wide range of suppliers to the health sector including major providers of IT systems and services, consultancy firms, and a large number of medium and small organisations.

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