NHS England has abandoned its pledge to develop seven ‘pathfinder’ areas aimed to get 100,000 patients using telehealth in England after reviewing the progress of the pathfinder areas in mid 2013, Pulse reports. Instead, the NHS England will have a wider focus on other areas delivering telehealth through the 3millionlives program.
Last November, health secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged to meet the 100k patient target through contracts with telhealth providers as part of the 3millionlives initiative – which aims to have three million people managed with telehealth by 2017. By March, doubts over the cost effectiveness of telehealth services began to emerge after a DH-funded trail of the technology concluded that telehealth may not be a cost effective use of the NHS funds at current prices.
After the trail, NHS England took control of the program and ordered an internal review into its progress. In September, an investigation by GP found 2,368 patients were actively using the health monitoring across twenty six pathfinder sites. That same month, one pathfinder site announced it was scraping the initiative due to concerns over costs (Price, Pulse,11/26).
NHS England Response
An NHS England spokeswoman said, “the expectation of 100,000 patients benefiting from telehealth by the end of 2013 was intended as an ambition rather than a target, and was based on the old “pathfinder” delivery model introduced under the DH in 2012.
We have therefore, with their help, radically overhauled the delivery model, moving to a model where we focus on where energy already exists locally for delivery of 3millionlives, so that we can harness it and build upon it.
In light of this, this we are identifying a new and rigorous set of metrics for 3millionlives, which will form an integral part of the 3millionlives delivery plan for 2014-17.”
She said the internal review had concluded that the new model must take a less siloed approach. NHS England will continue to aim for 3m patients to benefit from telehealth services by 2017 (Robinson, GP Online, 11/25).