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Positive findings of a study on how telemedicine could help keep people with long-term health conditions out of hospital were revealed to delegates at a think tank world-wide conference.
Consultant Dr Richard Pope presented the results of delivering care using secure video links to manage chronic illness effectively at the Kings Fund Third Annual International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare 2013 on behalf of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in London.
The aim of the event was to bring people together to share experiences and to showcase new ideas, new research and new innovations in telehealth and telecare that have been shown to improve the care of people with long-term conditions and other health social care needs.
Airedale Hospital has a Telehealth Hub on site which connects to over 1,000 patients in 33 residential and nursing homes via secure video links which allows them to have face-to-face consultations with nurses and doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patients can view the consultants by the use of a simple mobile video system. The Trust has worked with technical partners Involve-Visual to make the project a success.
Airedale's study looked at 17 nursing and residential care homes linked to the trust's 24 hour Telemedicine Hub. It compared a 12 month period before the introduction of telemedicine with a 12 month period after it was used.
The findings were that for residents in care homes linked up to the telemedicine hub were that:
Comparative data from residents in care homes that do not use telemedicine shows their hospital admissions increased by 11%, length of stay had risen by 7% and total use of bed days was up 18%.
If admissions are reduced by around 20%, this saves the health economy between £310,000 and £1.06m per year.
As part of the study, managers of all the homes were asked whether they believed that there had been a reduction in the number of admissions to hospital and A&E since telemedicine had gone live on their premises and everyone agreed that this was the case.
Dr Richard Pope, consultant at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The aim of our work has been to use technology to provide reliable, safe and effective round-the-clock care to patients with long term conditions who are spread throughout our local area and further afield.
"These results are really positive and show that using teleconsultation in this way has huge benefits for managers of care homes and carers who feel reassured they can quickly get expert help - but more importantly for patients, who would prefer to be cared for in their own environment than taken into hospital.
"A further benefit is the substantial reduction is the need for both hospital admissions and A&E care which results in considerable financial savings for the local health economy.
"I'm optimistic that a controlled trial in the future will give us even more evidence of the success of telemedicine."
The next stage will be to conduct a formal study with a control group and more detailed analysis to gain further evidence of the benefits of telemedicine.
Currently over 1,000 patients across Airedale Hospital's catchment area are linked to the Telehealth Hub including those with chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes. It provides them with specialist medical care at the touch of a button 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
Telemedicine is being used by 33 nursing and residential care homes in the local area. A further 30 as well as number of GP practices will be connected throughout July and August 201 Manorlands Hospice for seriously ill patients is connected with the Hub along with six local GP surgeries.
Airedale provides 20 prisons throughout the country with clinical opinion and diagnosis using telemedicine. This covers a range of health problems including serious situations from our skilled A&E consultants and second opinions on other medical conditions via scheduled appointments with consultants. This service has been established over a 7 year period and evidence shows that costly prisoner transfers can be reduced by up to as much as 50%.
During its first 11 months, Airedale's Telehealth Hub has avoided 124 admissions, saving over £330,000. It also avoided the need for face-to-face clinic appointments on 94 occasions.
Airedale and Involve have recently launched a joint venture organisation which they have branded Immedicare. The company is focusing on expanding these services right across the UK, potentially saving millions of pounds and just as importantly, helping to relive the huge pressure that is being put onto the Emergency Departments up and down the country.
Wigmore Media Group
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Source:
Wigmore Media Group
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