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NHS looks for remote monitoring tech

NHSX is seeking suppliers to help scale up remote monitoring across the health service in England, particularly for Covid-19 patients, and will go out to tender shortly

The NHS wants to increase remote monitoring of patients across England, and has issued an opportunity notice looking for suppliers who can help.

The notice, published by NHS Digital on behalf of NHSX, said it wants to hear from suppliers with remote monitoring technology who can help with remote care of patients.

“NHSX (on behalf of NHS England) is seeking to help scale remote monitoring care across the NHS in England with a particular focus on Covid-19 patients and the management of patients with long-term conditions to support care during the next phases of the pandemic,” the notice said.

“The purpose is to allow organisations to access monitoring solutions for local deployment.”

NHSX plans to go out to tender shortly, through the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Spark Dynamic Purchasing System, which was launched in June 2019, and aims to support suppliers with new tech and products that are not always “catered for in traditional commercial agreements”, according to the CCS.

“Spark enables technology companies with evidenced examples of the successful use of their innovations (in a host of areas, including artificial intelligence, internet of things and wearable tech) to offer these products to the whole public sector,” the notice said.

NHSX is hosting a webinar on 21 May to brief suppliers on what it is looking for.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a huge increase in the uptake of remote consultations, particularly in primary care, but also in secondary care, where patients can have virtual appointments with GPs or hospital consultants, to avoid attending hospital.

More than 75% of all practices used video to see patients in the third week of April 2020, with more than 50,000 people having access to doctors remotely. This compares with less than 10% uptake of video across GPs before the pandemic, according to NHSX.

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In secondary care, several trusts are offering virtual appointments, including St Helen’s & Knowsley NHS Trust, which is offering video consultations across several departments, using supplier Refero’s telehealth platform.

But when it comes to telehealth more widely, it has been a mixed picture. In 2011, the government launched a campaign called 3millionlives, aiming to have three million people benefiting from telehealth by 2017. At the time, then-prime minister David Cameron claimed it would save £1.2bn a year – but the campaign was later axed.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, again put a focus on remote care, particularly for those with long-term conditions.

NHS Digital CEO Sarah Wilkinson said at the time: “We will enable much more sophisticated monitoring of health by a patient or their carer, in their home environment, with the data from those monitors available immediately to their clinicians and their whole care team.”

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