£850,000 boost to Telehealth service to help with response to Covid-19

Mersey Care's Telehealth Service is being expanded to provide specialist monitoring for thousands more people across Liverpool with long-term health conditions.

Telehealth, a technology-led nursing service which provides remote home monitoring for patients with long-term health problems such as respiratory, heart and diabetic conditions, is due to receive an £850,000 investment from NHS England as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Around 2,000 patients were being supported by the service prior to the Coronavirus crisis and the extra investment will allow it to expand and support up to 6,000 patients. It will also provide additional system capacity to enable Liverpool, and other Clinical Commissioning Group areas in Merseyside and Cheshire to develop a similar service.

“Our team have been contacting local people who aren’t already using Telehealth, but we feel might benefit from the extra monitoring and support that Telehealth can provide to help them stay well during this time, because they are at higher risk," explained Peter Almond, Mersey Care's Programme Manager for the Telehealth Service.

“We’re aiming to take on another 2,500 living with chronic conditions straight away to help protect them whist they are shielding, as well as providing remote support and monitoring for patients in Liverpool with milder COVID-19 symptoms to help them manage the illness at home and stay out of hospital where possible.”

Under the service, a patient uses a smartphone, blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter to take vital sign readings and enter them onto the Telehealth system along with other symptoms. A team of nurses monitor these remotely and triage them to provide advice, support and onward referrals for patients, as required.

The Telehealth service is also being used to support patients being discharged from a local hospital after recovering from COVID-19.

Carol Hughes, Clinical Lead for Health Technology at Mersey Care, said: “Our team is very proud that this simple technology can make such a difference to people living with a chronic condition. We know helping people to take more control of their condition improves their quality of life. 

“This technology is changing the way care is being delivered. What sets us apart from other organisations using Telehealth is that we also have a dedicated hub of nurse advisers whose role it is to continuously monitor and assist these vulnerable patients whilst they remain at home.

"We're also keen to stress that the technology should be an aid, not a barrier and all our patients receive training in using it. As one of our older patients said, ‘if you can work a TV remote control you can easily operate Telehealth too.'”

John Webb, NHS Liverpool CCG’s commissioning lead for the service, added: "The Telehealth service was set up to support people in their own homes to manage their long-term conditions better and stay out of hospital. But, during this pandemic, we're realising the benefits of using this kind of health technology more fully, especially as it can be scaled up so quickly and easily.

“Over the last few years we've built up a real specialism in health technology in Liverpool and we’re really delighted that several other neighbouring areas have already expressed a keen interest in sharing that learning and adopting the system too.”

The Telehealth software and patient equipment is provided by Docobo Limited.