Telehealth: Revolutionising patient care
This entry was posted on 13/06/2016.
We already know that getting the weight of a patient wrong can be fatal; it’s why the Class III approval process was introduced.
But ensuring weighing scales are as accurate as possible is just the start. What about transferring the weight data of a patient to a central database?
There is surely room for human error there - either from the weight being incorrectly written down, or incorrectly recorded on the database.
What about weighing patients at the right time so that critical changes in weight and health are registered and immediately acted upon?
A solution already exists: it’s called telehealth, and it’s the reason you’ll find many Bluetooth-enabled medical scales in the Marsden range.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth constitutes the remote exchange of data - including weight - between a patient at home and their clinician, such as their GP or doctor. This strategy allows for regular diagnosis and monitoring of patients whilst reducing the strain on GP surgeries and hospitals and saving money for the NHS.
This process of remote data exchange also provides the opportunity to cut out time-consuming processes within hospitals: information about a patient’s health can be instantly transferred to a central patient database.
How effective is it?
If that sounds like a perfect solution for efficient data recording, not to mention faster, more accurate and more effective patient monitoring, diagnosis and treatment, the results of a recent study really bring home the benefits.
Led by researchers at Nuffield Trust, the study of the effects of telehealth on 1,570 patients saw:
- A 15% reduction in visits to A&E
- A 20% reduction in emergency admissions
- A 45% reduction in mortality rates
A huge benefit of telehealth is that it allows individuals to take more control of their own health and this has become an essential part of the care process, with information about a range of health conditions being monitored much more regularly and highlighting any issues before they become critical, saving lives in the process.
And it has Government backing…
A few years ago, 3millionlives was set up as a Government initiative to build support and awareness within telehealth. It acted as a partnership between the NHS, social care family and the British Government, and its objectives were to dismantle barriers, raise awareness, find champions and change perceptions to get increased and improved technology into services. Crucially, to differentiate from a traditional campaign, it was not judged against national targets.
Recently, 3millionlives has evolved into Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS). This has been developed by NHS commissioners to help maximise the value of technology enabled care services for the whole health economy. TECS provides help and information on procuring, commissioning, implementing and evaluating telehealth services.
A TECS case study can be read here.
So where do weighing scales come in?
You may already associate Bluetooth as a system used to connect information systems together. In the context of telehealth, Bluetooth in Marsden medical scales works much in the same way, but to transfer critical information to “need-to-know” individuals and organisations, such as your GP. Our scale, as a peripheral device, is paired to the clinician’s database by matching the protocols of the scale and the system.
It means that data such as weight can be transferred instantly from the scale, to a device, database or printer.
To work, patients simply step on the Marsden Bluetooth scale, which registers the weight reading on it. The data recorded can then be sent through via Bluetooth to the clinician’s wireless device, such as a printer which can be in either the same room or elsewhere. This data can then be printed off which in turn provides the individual with a permanent record of their weight data.
Alternatively, patients can choose to transfer a desktop computer or laptop device. Data can also be sent to a handheld device, like a tablet or smartphone, providing the device is compatible.
Subsequently, Bluetooth scales have become increasingly popular within the telehealth market, as hospitals, GP surgeries and the community are relying on these types of products and services to run more effectively.
It is useful, for example, for patients with heart problems, where a patient’s weight and fluids need to be measured to determine the medication used.
It has worked effectively for services such as Telehealth Services Cornwall where often individuals are based in remote areas and it is difficult to reach hospitals for monitoring. Bluetooth scales have made this much more convenient for both patient and GP, as well as making things quicker and easier.
BT Cornwall will now care for 1,200 telehealth and 11,000 telecare users across the county. By frequently monitoring from home “patients can stay independent for longer, has the potential to help them avoid unnecessary trips to hospital and improve communication with carers and loved ones,” said Ian Dalton (President of Global Health).
In fact, telehealth services are in action all over the country. In Yorkshire, telehealth services are used, for example, to detect if a patient has suffered a fall, indicate an extreme temperature or request a backup response or call emergency services. A report into telehealth in Yorkshire and Humber was produced by 2020Health to deliver an improved service for 2,100 patients in the region. The report can be read here.
How can you start benefitting from telehealth?
Ultimately, transferring data from weighing scales is just part of a much bigger picture: to get the full benefit of implementing a telehealth programme, you will need to speak to a telehealth provider who can provide you with a system that ensures complete detection, assessment and control of patient health and any changes in their health status.
But, for now, even if you have not yet implemented a telehealth programme, you can future-proof your medical weighing scales by purchasing Marsden bluetooth scales. Most of our most popular devices have a bluetooth option, from our M-420 Floor Scale to our M-950 Bed Weigher.
If you would like to find out more about telehealth, or Marsden Bluetooth scales, call 01709 364296.
Read more about telehealth and its impact on patient care here.