This blog was originally published as an article in the Health Service Journal on 24 Jan 2013
If you speak, as we have, with companies gearing up for Britain’s ‘remote care’ revolution, the levels of scepticism are perhaps surprising. But they are also unmistakeable and worrying. Suppliers hear the rhetoric that the NHS is committed to using technologies to shift healthcare out of hospitals and into homes. They note and welcome ever larger Government pilot projects. Yet, faith in the future is shaky.
As one technology supplier told us: ‘I think there will be a lot of really burned fingers in three to five years when [companies] suddenly find that the market is not there.’ Another supplier said: ‘If you leave change to local authorities or the NHS, nothing is likely to happen. .. They will think it is a good idea, not that it needs to be adopted.’ A third declared candidly, ‘I am hoping … there will be a joined up approach, because, at the moment, there’s no incentive to keep the patient out of hospital.’
These comments may surprise those who have observed a very real commitment from both the Coalition Government and its New Labour predecessor to expanding remote care – namely ‘telehealth’ (monitoring an individual’s vital signs) and ‘telecare’ (monitoring an individual’s mobility and general safety at home).