Telehealth and Telecare

By A.C.

The Scottish Centre for Telehealth & Telecare is a new organisation with its headquarters in Riverside Drive, Aberdeen.They have a nice view across the River Dee to Craiginches Jail.

When I started looking into this subject it was clear that technology has moved care in the community into many different and diverse programmes that are available in various parts of Scotland. It is also became clear how a huge subject it is.

The SCTT’s main function is to use their expertise in many areas to co-ordinate schemes, evaluate technology and any proposal to use technology in care and make Scotland a global leader in this type of technology and care. Aberdeen has been in the forefront of this work for a long time. Dr James Ferguson and his team at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary were reported as pioneers in 2008 in this story from the BBC.

He provided expertise to the makers of the James Bond film Casino Royale. Remember that famous scene where Daniel Craig links up his laptop with heart monitoring equipment, and communicates to London MI6 advisers to avoid poisoning?

This centre is now co-ordinating and providing guidance on programmes for what service is supplied.  So, let’s start with the centre’s own definition of what they are about.

What exactly is Telehealthcare?This broad definition contained in a document produced by the Scottish Government gives an idea of what they hope to achieve.

“Telehealth” is the provision of health services at a distance using a range of digital and mobile technologies.

“Telecare” is the provision of care services at a distance using a range of analogue, digital and mobile technologies”

“Telehealthcare” is used as an overarching term to describe both telehealth and telecare together.”

This database shows all the types of projects running throughout Scotland from sensory alarms to videoconferencing, consultations, and data capture. By using this searchable link, one can see the type of technology and schemes which are being provided in your Health Area.

I think most of us would have least some knowledge of the telecare system that used to be based in Rosehill House, Stockethill, which monitored the “panic button” or the red pendant that elderly users would wear around their neck, and which would activate when the wearer fell, or when it was pushed. The centre monitor would speak direct to the wearer in the home and try to ascertain the problem, then contact a nominated trusted key-holder for the house to give onsite update, and access to emergency services if needed.

The SCTT’s stated objectives are:

  • improve access to person centred care
  • enable people to stay at home or in the community for as long as is appropriate and avoid the need for unplanned care where possible
  • enable people to better manage their own health and wellbeing,and improve their quality of life
  • improve access to specialist care services (where possible allowing consultation at home/from local healthcare facility/hospital to hospital or hospital/healthcare facility to specialist’s home/office/to care home);
  • supporting opportunities for regional or national services where relevant safely and appropriately enable people to return to their homes or community as early as possible, after admission to hospital or care home
  • streamline care pathways to enable sustainable health and care services effectively plan and manage appropriate transition from pilot projects to at-scale mainstream services

I hope at some point to ask a lot more practical questions of a representative of the SCTT about what and how all this works in practice.  

 

 

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