Experimental ‘telehealth’ technology could drastically improve quality of life for British veterans, American studies suggest.
Telehealth is the use of technology to move information from patient to doctor, or vice versa. That can be simple text messages, medical information like blood pressure or heart-rate, or even video-calling.
Telehealth Solutions’ HomePod is an iPad-like device placed in patients’ homes, which they can use to measure vital signs, answer clinical questionnaires, and send the results to a doctor instantly – though they may be miles apart.
It means a doctor can spot problems as soon as they arise and before they become any more serious, preventing a hospital admission – or worse.
It’s ideal for patients that have long-term illnesses, such as older veterans who now have lung disease or diabetes, as well as the recently discharged from hospital, like younger veterans returning from front-line duty.
Most importantly, it allows users to communicate with a carer and receive support and encouragement. They can answer questions and tell the doctor how they feel, as well as receive advice about how to keep healthy.
The Veterans’ Association in America has used the technology extensively, as many veterans have long-term conditions like lung disease, diabetes and continuing injuries from their time in service. A number of studies conducted have found it improves quality of life and reduces the number of medical emergencies that patients have.
A pilot programme here in the UK reduced hospital admissions by 90%, and the length of hospital stays by a similar proportion; trusts using the technology have won several awards for improving patient care.
Jeremy Cummin, Managing Director of Telehealth Solutions said, ‘Telehealth is the future of all health services. It reduces costs, it gives patients better care and it actually saves lives. I don’t think the question is whether we can afford to use it, but whether we can afford not to use it’