NHS Lothian at the cutting edge

The telehealth personal healthcare system which was piloted in practices in West Lothian, Midlothian and Edinburgh is now being rolled out to patients across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The state of the art high tech system allows people with chronic conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to monitor their own conditions on a daily basis at home. The telehealth personal healthcare system uses touch screen technology and can undertake a range of health tests including blood pressure, breathing, weight and blood glucose and oxygen levels. It also provides wireless connections to medical devices such as peak flow meters and weight scales.

NHS Lothian has been working closely with Intel Corporation and Tunstall Healthcare Group to deliver the innovative technology into patients’ homes. The project is jointly funded by NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government.

Dr Charles Winstanley, Chair, NHS Lothian, said:

“I am delighted that we are now in a position to bring this advanced technology to so many patients. This is another fine example of innovation in healthcare in Lothian.  
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said
“Using technology in innovative ways like this can transform people’s lives. This touch-screen technology, co-funded by the Scottish Government, will save hundreds of people from making repeated trips into hospital, making a huge difference to their quality of life.
“I am very excited by the potential for telehealth to bring care as close to home as possible – in this case, into people’s own homes. By harnessing all that new technologies can offer us we can also make care quicker and safer and invest in a twenty-first century health service to be proud of.”
Martin Egan, eHealth Director, NHS Lothian said:
 “We are committed to bringing the latest e-Health technology to patients in Lothian. We have learned a great deal from the initial pilot and this has helped us with our preparations as we begin rolling out the telehealth system to 400 patients.”
Dr Brian McKinstry, NHS Lothian GP in Blackburn and lead clinician in the pilot study said:
“This initiative offers excellent benefits to patients by allowing them more control of their condition. It allows the patient to carry out self-monitoring while still being supervised by a clinician. This ensures the safe management of the patient, provides added reassurance and more frequent patient, clinician contact. The telehealth system provides early monitoring of the patient’s condition, thereby preventing the condition worsening and reducing the need for unplanned hospital admissions.”
"As the worldwide population of people over the age of 65 and the number of people living with one or more chronic condition rapidly increases, we believe that care will continue to move out of the hospital and into the home," said Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of the Intel Digital Health Group. "Intel has spent years researching the needs of patients and their families and is developing products, such as the Health Guide, to help extend care from hospital to home. The NHS Lothian telehealth programme demonstrates our commitment and ability to support telehealth programmes across the UK."
James Buckley, Chief Executive, Tunstall Healthcare Group, said:
“We are delighted to be working with NHS Lothian to extend the benefits of home health care systems to people living with COPD.
“West Lothian and Tunstall have led the way in terms of implementing innovative telecare and telehealth technology for a number of years and this latest project will enable more people to benefit.”
Similar sized trials in other countries have shown hospital admissions reduced by around 30 per cent.
Evaluation of the roll out will be undertaken in the form of a randomised controlled trial by The University of Edinburgh.
The telehealth project has been developed following the successful telecare initiative spearheaded in West Lothian. Telecare provides older and vulnerable people with a range of monitors and sensors in their homes to enable independent living.