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  • Posted by Alice Bardaux
  • November 30, 2016
  • Blogs

Telehealth research

Telehealth research

The remote exchange of data between patients and their clinician

Technology is helping patients become more engaged in managing their own health and manufacturers are keen to leverage these new opportunities in order to improve delivery of care.

Smart and ‘telehealth’ devices facilitate the remote exchange of data between a patient at home and their clinician to assist in diagnosis. Telehealth services are being used by more and more patients with chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In 2014 13% of patients in the UK reported that they used smart phones and apps to monitor their health. Earlier this year that figure had increased to 36%. [1]

Although this market is still in its infancy, the expected global revenues of telehealth are significant – rising from $2.4 billion in 2013 to an estimated $21.5 billion in 2018 [2].

The potential benefits of telehealth are vast. It can reduce GP appointments, improve adherence to treatment and lifestyle changes and avoid the need for hospitalisation. With telehealth, patients become more aware of their disease, are able to monitor themselves and feel reassured about their health. The Whole System Demonstrator programme, the largest randomised control trial of telehealth and telecare in the world, reported telehealth can reduce visits to A&E by 15%, emergency admissions by 20% and mortality rates by 45% [3].

As telehealth is an emerging trend in the healthcare environment, market research is critical to ensuring that solutions are developed in a way that meets users’ needs. We recently managed a study to investigate the telehealth opportunities in asthma management in various EU markets.  We undertook qualitative research with both patients and healthcare professionals and discovered that patients are highly motivated to use an asthma app, because they feel they need additional help to manage their condition and would be reassured in the knowledge that they were being monitored over time. However, healthcare professionals expressed some concerns about the additional time that would be required to monitor data and question the accuracy of the data it would collect.

This study also sought to understand the most critical unmet needs which could be addressed with an app. Most patients wanted something which helped them with adherence to treatment and new lifestyle, as well as helping them keep asthma attacks under control. Physicians feel they don’t have enough time to spend with all of their patients.  Using the findings from this piece of research we were able to produce a list of key features that should be included in an asthma app. 

Having worked on an increasing number of studies in this area it’s clear that this trend that we’re now seeing in healthcare - a move towards new models of care such as telehealth– is growing in popularity and undoubtedly set to grow substantially in the near future. We look forward to working on more studies which support the development of these novel healthcare delivery solutions.

[1] Source from ‘Connected asthma – Asthma UK: how technology will transform care’ from BCC Research Mobile Technologies and global markets (2014) 

[2] Source: Accenture, Digital Consumer Health Engagement 2016 – Global Report (2016)

[3] Findings of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme, largest randomised control trial of telehealth and telecare in the world set up by the UK’s Department of Health with 3230 patients with a long-term condition (heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes)

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