Telecare 2007: Caring from a distance
On Target reviews an event that brought together providers and purchasers in the revolutionary field of electronic healthcare.
|On Target reviews an event that brought together providers and purchasers in the revolutionary field of electronic healthcare. There was nothing remote about the Telecare 2007 event ‘Caring at a distance’ at the Lakeside Conference Centre in Birmingham on the 26th September. This busy one-day conference linked the telecare and telehealth strands of electronic healthcare, and featured guest speakers and case histories from the NHS and the medtech industry as well as a supporting exhibition. |
Closer to home Over 100 visitors from healthcare and social care organisations enjoyed a packed programme of audio-visual presentations on the development of telehealth and telecare solutions in the UK. A recurrent theme was the power of electronic healthcare to make personalised care in the community an effective and affordable reality. As a number of speakers observed, this cannot be achieved through new technology alone: it requires a fundamental shift in the healthcare paradigm within and beyond the NHS.
Topics covered included: the future of telehealth; telecare for carers and tenants in supported housing; telecare developments in Wales and Scotland; a project to integrate telehealth and telecare in London; using telehealth services to enhance primary care; telecare in the treatment of dementia; and the infrastructure of European telehealth.
A clear theme that emerged was that electronic healthcare offers a crucial shift from the ‘fire-fighting’ of diagnostic and emergency care to a socially integrated and patient-centred system of preventative care and monitoring. The value of this for the current NHS agenda of ‘healthcare closer to home’ and a ‘patient-led health service’ is clear, and a wealth of statistics and case histories demonstrated the financial and clinical benefits of telehealth and telecare solutions in helping to keep patients out of hospital. Nor was keeping patients at home seen as the ultimate goal: case after case illustrated that home monitoring enables elderly and disabled patients to enjoy more activity and independence.
On a day of dramatic quotes, perhaps the most touching came from an elderly patient whose formerly severe breathing problems had improved through home monitoring with a console costing just £550: “I’m not frightened any more. I don’t have panic attacks any more. I feel easy.”