Information Management In Public Services

Poor connectivity hampers telehealth

Gill Hitchcock Published 01 November 2012

Too many telehealth pilots and not enough getting on with it, conference told


Telehealth technologies, which can be most useful to patients with long-term conditions in rural areas, are being hampered by poor broadband connectivity, the Telehealth2012 conference heard.

Hazel Price, assistive technology project manager at Kent county council, said that the county has very disparate broadband and in certain areas, very poor 3G coverage.

"There is a question about connectivity," said Price."In Kent we have more dead spots than a collection of cemeteries."

She said that although most frontline care staff have laptops or tablets, they don't link back to office systems very well.

Sally Chisholm, chief executive of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre, reminded the conference that technology is always changing, however.

"Even when you are undertaking an individual piece of work implementing a particular solution, keep your eyes and ears open, because 4G came in yesterday and that might be the solution," she said.

Telehealth has a clear evidence base, said Chisholm, but the UK is putting too much effort into pilots instead of getting on with it.

Another telehealth issue, according to Dr Paul Shannon, consultant anaethetist at Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS foundation trust, is that IT does not have a high status in the health service.

Shannon told the conference that technology was often the responsibility of the finance department within trusts and suggested that a CIO is needed to drive forward technologies, including telehealth.

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