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 Buckinghamshire.

 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 GP.

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.


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