The study - one of the largest ever conducted on telehealth - was led by researchers at the Nuffield Trust, and assessed the impact of telehealth on hospital use for 3,230 patients with long term conditions (diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or heart failure) over one year.
Patients were randomly split into two groups, with 1,570 patients given telehealth solutions and taught how to monitor their condition at home, transmitting data to health care professionals; while 1,584 control patients received traditional care. The results showed that, compared with the control group, telehealth delivered:
These differences remained significant after adjusting for several factors that could have influenced the results, according to the study's authors. Tunstall believes the paper provides NHS commissioners and clinicians with the strongest and most credible evidence yet that telehealth enables better care for each patient's needs, improving outcomes and reducing the need for expensive hospital-based care.
Gil Baldwin, CEO of Tunstall Healthcare and spokesperson for the 3millionlives initiative said: "Many NHS and social care organisations have already commenced large-scale roll outs of telehealthcare services. The findings from the study give further legitimacy, clinical assurance and finally the data-set to back up these innovative approaches to transforming health and social care."
Simon Arnold, Managing Director, Tunstall Healthcare said: "This paper confirms that telehealth significantly reduces deaths, helps patients to avoid the need for emergency hospital admissions, and shortens hospital stays when compared with traditional approaches to care. This is absolutely complementary to our work with partners across the UK and provides an indisputable evidence base for clinicians and commissioners when making decisions about patient care in the future."
Tunstall's telehealthcare solutions are being used extensively in the WSD programme, with thousands of systems deployed with WSD service users in Cornwall, Kent and Newham. The company's telehealth solutions enable patients to monitor their vital signs such as weight, blood pressure and oxygen levels in their own homes easily, safely and securely. The results are accessed daily by a team of clinicians who triage the patient's health outcomes. This aids with proactive case management, ensures timely and appropriate support to patients as well as promoting self-awareness and better management of their own long-term condition.
In addition to WSD, Tunstall has 90 telehealth programmes running in the UK, with a growing number based on a per-use cost model for each patient. This minimises upfront costs and accelerates delivery of benefits, both to patients and the healthcare organisations.
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Tunstall Healthcare Group is the market leading provider of telehealthcare solutions, with over 2.5 million users globally. Tunstall's solutions support older people and those with long-term needs, helping them to live independently by effectively managing their health and well-being. Its solutions have been proven effective in the world's largest telehealthcare trial. Tunstall provides technology, expertise and advice to millions of people enabling them to lead independent more fulfilling lives.
* BMJ: Effect of telehealth on use of secondary care and mortality: findings from the Whole System Demonstrator cluster randomised trial: http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e3874 This is the first of five papers which provide the detail behind the headline WSD findings published in December 2011.