The government is to roll out telemedicine services to three million homes, as part of a bid to boost the UK’s life science industry.
Remote medical devices such as home-based equipment – which can send details of patients' vital statistics directly to healthcare professionals – are to be deployed to three million people over the next five years in the drive to telehealth, the government announced in its Life Science Strategy.
Other measures intended to stimulate the medical science and technology industry include a £180 million catalyst fund to help commercialise the next generation of British medical breakthroughs.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Our strengths alone are not enough to keep pace with what’s happening. We’ve got to change radically – the way we innovate, the way we collaborate, the way we open up the NHS."
Cameron added: “I want the great discoveries of the next decade happening in British labs, the new technologies born in British start-ups.”
Trade body Intellect said the telehealth plans will benefit citizens, while enabling the UK to become a world leader in telecare technologies that deliver healthcare to people at home. “It gives UK companies a great platform on which to build innovative solutions and open up new markets,” said director general John Higgins.
But part of the strategy includes controversial government plans toopen up patient data for commercial use, which digital rights campaigners have warned could lead to privacy breaches. Under the proposals patients will be given the choice to opt out of having their anonymised data passed on to third-parties.
Privacy campaigner at NO2ID James Baker said: “Our private NHS medical records should belong to us, we as citizens should be in control of them. They are not the Department of Health’s to trade and share. If we want to share our medical records so others can benefit there should be a clear opt in system where active consent is sought.”
The announcement follows government plans to release a series of public service datasets intended to stimulate growth.