UK telehealth pioneer Telehealth Solutions and NHS Highland have won a prestigious eHealth Award for ‘Best Use of Innovation in Patient Care’.
In March 2009, the firm’s HomePod, SurgeryPod and CommunityPod were used to monitor COPD patients. The objective was to improve the quality of patient care and reduce the cost of care for the NHS.
The region covered by NHS Highland includes several remote locations, notably the islands of Bute and Luing. For some people living in island communities, emergency medical attention can only be provided by helicopter at massive cost to NHS Highland.
The HomePod is used to measure, among other things, blood pressure and lung function. The results of all patient tests are immediately sent to a carer and medication or treatment can be administered well before the problem turns into an emergency. This not only saves lives but also saves patients the stress and upheaval of having to go into hospital.
In Oban and the Isle of Luing, CommunityPods and SurgeryPods were placed in community halls and surgery waiting rooms. That allowed patients to check their blood pressure, lung function and oxygen saturation without the need for help from practice staff. It also meant they could receive a check at any time, as often as they liked.
On the Isle of Bute, COPD sufferers were given the HomePod to prevent exacerbations and improve their quality of life. The official evaluation for the project, released earlier this year, showed that hospital admissions were reduced by more than 90%, GP visits by 40% and A&E attendances by 70%.
NHS Highland ran a digital voices workshop to allow users to share, in their own words, how the units had changed their lives. The testimonies were later published.
One user said: “Before I had the machine I was up at the hospital two or three times a week. Now, if I get a bit uptight, I'll enter the data and I usually get a phone call within an hour.”
Telehealth Solutions Project Manager Charles Lowe added: “For a number of reasons, telehealth saves healthcare providers money. Among the benefits are the reduction in demand for acute care and an increase in the efficiency of primary care. Perhaps the most important achievement of telehealth is that it saves lives and improves quality of life for so many.”