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Department of Health sets up home healthcare IT trial

Antony Savvas

The Department of Health is rolling out a £12m “telehealth” technology trial to support home healthcare.

The technology will be used to help older people and those with long term conditions to lead more independent lives, and help prevent emergency or unexpected admissions to hospital.

Telehealth monitoring devices can help people with long term conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, to monitor and manage their condition.

People test their blood glucose levels or blood pressure on a small machine at home. The results are monitored by healthcare professionals, who can alert patients with any concerns. The local GP surgery can also monitor the patient remotely.

Other devices consist of sensors in the home and carry out simple tasks like switching lights on or raising an alarm if an old person does not return to bed in the middle of the night. The systems ensure assistance is sent to the person as soon as they need it.

Teams in Kent, Newham and Cornwall have been awarded £12m over the next financial year to look at how best these services can be implemented.

Health minister Patricia Hewitt said, “New gadgets aren't just about specialist innovations in hospitals - it is about using innovation at the frontline of the NHS to help patients manage their conditions better themselves.”

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