Telehealth devices need to be designed around patients

9-Mar-2012

Conference warned care systems and patient preference must come first, and technology second

Telehealth and telecare devices must be designed to fit into individual care pathways, rather than patients adapting to the technologies, market experts warned this week.

Speaking at the King’s Fund International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare in London, they warned that cash savings and improvements in patient wellbeing would not be fully realised unless the technologies were designed around patient needs.

Keynote speaker, Paul Burstow, Minister for Care Services, said: “Until now the system has been organised around the needs of the GPs, hospitals and social care organisations and we have ended up with a confusing, fragmented system.

It’s about asking what the patient needs and making the technology an enabler not a driver

“We need to take the approach where we take the patients’ needs first and build the system around them. It does not matter who provides the services, only that they deliver and work in a way that is right for the patient.”

”The technology really isn’t where it starts. It starts with people. Technology can be amazing, but it’s just a tool. It’s about the personalisation of healthcare that has a big impact.”

This is a need increasingly recognised by suppliers. Keith Nurcombe, managing director of O2 Health, part of the Telefonica group, said: “It is not about saying ‘here’s the technology’, then developing the system of care around that. It’s about asking what the patient needs and making the technology an enabler not a driver.”

Technology can be amazing, but it’s just a tool. It’s about the personalisation of healthcare that has a big impact

And Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, a group that represents health and social care charities across the UK, added: “People often look back at how much money has been spend on kit and how badly that kit has performed, but it’s kit first and process second. This leads to expense and does not deliver the real benefits.

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“We have to get the service right and find a way of building the kit into that service.”

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