Monday, January 04, 2010

Telemedicine - Testing of remote monitoring of chronically ill patients over broadband

[broadband genie] Electronics group, Philips is currently testing new technology which will allow distant monitoring of chronically ill patients in their home over a broadband connection.

According to a report in The Times, patients in Newham, a deprived East London borough, are being monitored as they remain at home using diagnostic equipment linked to local hospitals.

As well as being able to test their own blood pressure and blood oxygen levels, home patients are able to send vital health data directly to staff at the Primary Health Trust via an electronic message.

Further trials are also being conducted in Cornwall and Kent in the hope this checking system, known as Telehealth or Telecare will save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds.

According to the Department of Health, 14.5 million people in Britain have long-term conditions which require monitoring. Telecare is hoped to keep the costs of monitoring patients with chronic conditions in their homes down rather than forcing them to live in long-stay care homes or visit hospital outpatients departments. The department has reiterated this new system isn’t intended to replace hospitals or care homes.

Malcolm Hart, head of Philips’ medical business in Britain, revealed the Philip’s medical system costs £80 a month to operate. He commented: “What we are trying to do is avoid readmissions and trips to Accident and Emergency. If a patient is readmitted to hospital it costs about £2,000… We need to do things differently, and technology has a role to play.”

The Telcare set-up includes an SPO2 meter for blood oxygen, which clips on to the patient’s finger. The meter is then attached to a set-top box linked to the patient’s television. Readings are sent to healthcare staff of the Primary Health Trust through an internet connection who will contact the patient if the readings cause concern. Presumably, they will also contact the patient if they don’t receive readings if there is ever a problem with the broadband network.

Philips trials ‘Big Brother’-style health checks over broadband

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