The Trust serves a population of 240,000 and has a high prevalence of people with long-term conditions living in the area. In 2009-2010, heart failure and COPD resulted in 1,024 emergency hospital admissions for Tameside and Glossop. This alone equated to a cost of approximately £2.7m, which is predicted to rise to £3.5m annually over the next ten years.
With the number of COPD patients expected to increase by 16% over the period 2008-2020, the service will play a key role in helping the Trust provide the support needed to enable patients to manage their condition more effectively. It will also generate significant cost savings to overcome current financial challenges.
The telehealth service, rolled out across the area in two months, was introduced in February 2011. Key to its success has been the collaborative effort of both the Trust and Tunstall to deliver a fully-managed service which meets the needs of its users. This pilot is supported by a dedicated team of nurses from Tameside & Glossop Community Healthcare, whose skills in assessment and triage have underpinned the successful utilisation of the 60 telehealth units available.
Alison Lewin, Associate Director of Commissioning for NHS Tameside and Glossop said: “In order to meet the QIPP target, the Trust needed to generate £1m savings from the Long Term Conditions budget. The deployment of telehealth will be key in helping us to meet these targets, as well as supporting the delivery of other QIPP projects by freeing up resources.
“Using telehealth has enabled us to provide a higher level of support to patients with COPD. By allowing them to monitor their condition at home and encouraging them to be more proactive in managing their own health, patients can lead a better quality of life, feel more confident that their condition is under control and avoid frequent stays in hospital. We now have a waiting list for the telehealth service, and informal feedback has indicated that we are already keeping patients out of hospital and empowering them to better manage their health.”
Alison Rogan, Communications Director for Tunstall said: “The telehealth deployment across Tameside and Glossop is a perfect example of best practice. By working closely with the PCT to deliver a comprehensive support package and coordinated project management and training, we have been able to streamline the process and implement the service within a very short time frame. Telehealth provides a vital service to patients with long term conditions and the true success here has been the excellent leadership by the community health provider and commissioning teams.”
A total of 60 patients are using Tunstall’s mymedic and icp triagemanager solutions, supporting integrated and fully-managed patient-centred care. The mymedic unit allows patients to monitor their blood pressure, oxygen levels, weight and temperature, and also asks a series of health-related questions on a daily basis.
Results are automatically transmitted to the icp triagemanager software for review and processing by the Long Term Conditions Team, based at Crickets Lane Health Centre in Ashton-under-
Following the initial deployment, the Trust intends to evaluate and review the pilot with a view to developing the service by rolling it out to more patients, with the potential to also include the provision of telehealth to patients with heart failure.
According to the Long Term Conditions team, patients enrolled on telehealth are happy both with the process and the outcomes experienced. They have voiced their appreciation for the follow-up phone calls and support provided by the clinical team when they have an alert. Equally, they report that it gives them reassurance, which in turn helps to alleviate their anxieties. Family members also feel reassured and appreciate the response that the team provides.
Kath Blackhall, Advanced Practitioner with the Long Term Conditions team said: “As a team, we have reduced the frequency of some home visits, as patients feel supported by the monitoring process, and patients are also reassured that if problems do arise, one of our clinicians will be in contact and arrange a visit if necessary.
"Members of the team who have responded to telehealth generated visits, report they were highly appropriate. Frequent patient monitoring has identified subtle deteriorations in clinical parameters which has prompted an earlier intervention. In addition, undiagnosed pathology has been managed and/or referred to the appropriate clinician. Remedial treatments such as changes to medication have benefitted patients enrolled.”