Southern Health secures funding for telehealth programme
11 October 2013
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has secured
performance-related payments from the UK Department of Health to
continue delivery of telehealthcare for patients living with
long-term conditions in the South of England.
The Trust introduced a telehealth programme to manage patients
living with long-term conditions such as COPD, chronic heart failure
(CHF) and diabetes. These accounted for 17% of emergency admission
episodes in 2011-12, costing a total of £3.4m, with COPD noted as
the most costly.
Southern Health provides community health, specialist mental
health and learning disability services to a population of around
1.3m people in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and
It invested in 300 telehealth systems from Tunstall. The
technology enables clinicians to remotely monitor patients’ vital
signs including blood pressure, pulse rate and blood oxygen levels
on a daily basis which allows them to triage patients effectively,
supporting early intervention and prioritisation of care.
The Trust reported positive results from the first 144
individuals to use the service. Telehealth brought a significant
reduction in the number of unplanned emergency hospital admissions,
with a 66% reduction in non-ambulatory and 78% in ambulatory.
Telehealth also reduced the number of GP visits, allowing them to
take on more cases and removing unnecessary travel for patients, and
the number of home visits made by local community nurses, enabling
them to prioritise patients according to their level of care.
Patrick Carroll, Lead Allied Health Professional at Southern
Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “Adopting telehealth as part of
our operational model has delivered real benefits, improving the
quality of care and resulting in a significant reduction in
emergency admissions and the use of unscheduled care. Patient
engagement and satisfaction has been high.”
The Trust says many patients involved in the pilot felt more
empowered in managing their condition, as telehealth provided them
with reassurance and greater independence. Even after telehealth was
removed, due to improvement in the stability of patients’ conditions
through understanding and education, patients sustained a 60%
reduction in the use of rapid response units and out-of-hours
services. Patients became more confident knowing when intervention
was required, and as a result did not depend on contact with their
Following the receipt of the full quota of CQUIN funding,
Southern Health plans to continue and further expand its use of
telehealth, and is considering the benefits of rolling out wider
adoption using a managed service approach. It is also exploring the
possibility of working with the acute sector on an integrated
strategy for supported and early discharge, using telehealth systems
to facilitate more effective and stable transfers of patients back
into their own homes.
The Trust is also examining the value of applying telehealth to
mental health services, and the feasibility of using it to support
people with learning disabilities and anxious patients who are
regular users of health services.
The Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payment
framework enables clinical commissioners to reward excellence by
linking a proportion of English healthcare providers' income to the
achievement of local quality improvement goals.