An innovative telehealth project to monitor patients with chronic lung conditions has secured NHS Highland, Argyll & Bute Council and Telehealth Solutions a major industry award.
NHS Highland’s Project Manager Lynn Garrett and Telehealth Solutions’ Product Manager Charles Lowe were at the Scottish Health Awards in Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange on November 11th, at which they collected the coveted Improvement and Innovation award.
The pioneering project, established at the start of this year with very limited resources, has enjoyed phenomenal success since its inception.
A total of 15 HomePods were installed on the Isle of Bute and the benefits were immediately apparent when, just weeks after the project went live, the first unplanned hospital admission was avoided.
Early evaluations would suggest that further admissions have been saved but a structured evaluation, carried out in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands, will shortly be conducted. Once the results are known the findings will be shared with other health authorities.
This has saved not only high hospital costs but also fees for out-of-hours emergencies and helicopter call-outs, not to mention a saving to patients on the anxiety of being removed from their home to a hospital setting, possibly outwith their own area.
Lynn Garrett said she was delighted with the award and the fact the hard work put in by staff at NHS Highland and Telehealth Solutions had been recognised in this way.
Lynn said: “Telehealth, for us, fits in perfectly with the Department of Health’s Shifting the balance of Care agenda and we wanted to embrace this at the start of any service redesign so that we embed it in our practice.”
“We are very aware change requires organisational support and buy in from staff on the ground as well as patients, so we really had to sit down and think where telehealth would work best for our patients, which could well be what earned us this award.”
Telehealth Solutions’ Executive Chairman Jeremy Cummin was also delighted and said telehealth technology was proving its worth time and time again in remote and urban communities in Scotland.
Jeremy said: “Our objective as a pioneering and progressive telehealth company is improved delivery of care through technology. Patient feedback has been very positive as the HomePod is helping them avoid going into hospital and also giving them the comfort of knowing their condition is being remotely monitored more closely.
“Health professionals also say the HomePod frees them up to prioritise their workload by allowing them to monitor patients and pay a visit when required.”
Mary Scanlon, Shadow Health Secretary and Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands was also at the awards ceremony and congratulated Lynn Garrett in person. Mary pledged to visit Bute to see the Telehealth project, which is making a big difference to the lives of so many people on the Isle of Bute.
She added: “I am more than aware that many of my constituents in the Highlands and Islands live in more remote communities and those are the places that will perhaps benefit most from such revolutionary technology.”
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Notes to editors
• Telehealth Solutions was founded in 2006 to bring the convergence of technology and changing clinical practice to the benefit of patients and clinicians. The company has grown rapidly and now has 20 employees who are dedicated to providing the most secure, scalable and robust methods for collecting information from patients, without the need for clinical intervention, and getting that information into the hands of the clinicians and carers who are looking after those patients.
Products in the THSL portfolio, which is explained in-depth on the firm’s website www.thsl.co.uk, include:
• Check-in Pod
• The Department of Health states that telehealth is the remote delivery of healthcare using electronic means of communication usually patient to clinician.
For example, a patient measuring their vital signs at home and this data being transmitted via a telehealth monitor to a clinician. The principal benefits of telehealth are enabling great professional focus on patients, reducing anxiety, anticipating and, therefore, avoiding crisis admissions to hospital and improving medication compliance. The patient also becomes more informed about their daily health and is an active partner in their own healthcare. This use of technology is particularly good for remote and rural areas.