Is Telehealth really the solution?
There is currently a lot of reporting in the press on “Telehealth” trials and how it could save the NHS £billions by remotely monitoring a patients condition. I suppose what they are intimating is it’s like having a nurse at the other end of the phone 24hrs a day 7 days a week. We do agree that this approach is a good addition to services for people with long term conditions that need managing however what a machine can’t help you with is the emotional isolation from information that a human can give. The output is black and white.
It is all well a good that these systems can save valuable resource in the long term however our opinion is that if clinicians become over reliant then patients will inevitably make mistakes, not be consistent how they use the telehealth system, a bit like forgetting to take your prescribed medicines and therefore you get to a “what’s the point in having it” as misinformation is worse than no information sometimes. You will also have the spectre of “Big Brother” looking over your shoulder. Many patients are brusied and battered with the torrent of information that they recieve and a lot of the time if this information is not delivered correctly it can be seen as “Big Brother” telling you what to do. The system is great for producing Health Data.
There is a place for “Telehealth” in the pathway to self management but it is only one element and should be treated as an information provider not as a golden solution. Unfortunatley the obsession with this system has led to yet another justification that it’s all about saving money.