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Mounting Evidence of the Benefits of Telehealth: U.K. Study Shows 45% Reduction in Mortality Rates

12/28/11 By David Lindeman

Initial results of the largest study of telehealth and telecare ever undertaken has significantly added to the evidence base of the effectiveness of remote monitoring. The evaluation of the Whole System Demonstrator program, conducted by the United Kingdom's Department of Health, has shown that telehealth technology (i.e., remote monitoring of vital signs) can reduce patient mortality rates by 45%. In addition, study results indicate that remote monitoring technology can result in:

  • A 15% reduction in emergency department visits;
  • A 20% reduction in emergency admissions;
  • A 14% reduction in elective admissions; and
  • A 14% reduction in bed days.

Key to the success of the remote monitoring interventions was the ability to “integrate these technologies into the care and services that are delivered.”

The Whole System Demonstrator program is a randomized controlled trial that is assessing outcomes for over 6,000 patients drawn from 238 physician practices over a 2-year period. The program evaluation is looking at five basic themes: service utilization; participant self-reported outcomes, such as quality of life; cost effectiveness; user and professionals' experience, and organizational factors that influence adoption. The remote patient monitoring trial enrolled over 3,000 patients with chronic conditions including diabetes, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

As a result of the success of this program, the U.K. Department of Health announced the “Three Million Lives” campaign, the intent of which is to expand the use of telehealth to benefit the country’s three million people with long-term conditions and/or social care needs. While still in the planning stages, the Three Million Lives campaign will provide strategic direction for a private/public effort to improve health care outcomes via remote monitoring that includes the National Health Service, social care organizations, and industry. The lessons learned from the Whole System Demonstrator program are not only transferable throughout the UK, but are relevant for the US and other European countries, reinforcing the importance of technology as a major contributor to helping persons live independently while reducing the costs of health care.

The initial findings from the Whole System Demonstrator program can be found at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/dr_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_131689.pdf

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