New network will develop use of telecare and telehealth to manage long-term conditions

Greater use of cutting-edge technologies in health care moved a step closer today with the establishment of a new network to help expand use of telehealth and telecare in helping patients with long-term conditions.

The new network is known as the Whole Systems Demonstrator Action Network (WSDAN) and will be run by The King's Fund and the Care Services Improvement Partnership, backed by Department of Health funding. It will ensure that information from pilot schemes in Kent, Cornwall and Newham, who are making use of the latest assisted technology, is shared among experts to help spread best practice.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis MP, at The King’s Fund to attend the launch of the new network, said:  

‘Increasing the use of technologies in health and social care will help transform the lives of those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, heart and chest problems, but it’s essential the information from the pilot schemes is shared among the experts. This is exactly why the Demonstrator network established today is so important. I’m confident the network will help make hi-tech health care a reality for many more people.’ 

Dr Nick Goodwin, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund said:

‘Our growing elderly population and the associated increase in the number of people living with chronic and long-term conditions poses profound challenges for NHS and social care services. In order to provide economically sustainable and high-quality care to these patients it is essential to develop new ways of caring for people in their own home. Advanced assistive technologies have the potential to facilitate this change, but with so many products and devices on the market we need evidence to ensure everyone gets the best out of them. Collecting and sharing information from the Network’s action research programme and the three Whole System Demonstrator pilot sites is vital if best practice is to develop and spread.’ 

Jeremy Porteus, National Programme Lead, CSIP Networks said:

‘The Care Services Improvement Partnership is delighted to be a partner in this innovative, new action research programme with The King’s Fund. For the first time, commissioners and providers can come together to address the health, care and support needs of their populations with long-term conditions, identify lessons learned from the demonstrator sites in Cornwall, Kent, Newham and start making improvements to transform their local services’. 

The Department of Health has already announced £31 million for three pilots in Kent, Cornwall and Newham, tasked with trialling telecare and telehealth techniques in the management of conditions such as diabetes and chronic lung disease.  

WSDAN creates an action research programme involving 10–12 partner groups, made up of people from PCTs, local authorities and third sector organisations to share information from the pilots. These specially invited partners are leaders in the use of high-quality assistive technologies and their experiences will provide important insights. 

WSDAN is accompanied by a public, free-to-access website providing access to published materials on the evidence base in the development of telecare, telehealth and community-based telemedicine.  Anyone can register with WSDAN to receive e-mail alerts to news, events and publications and its developing library resource.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For more information about WSDAN visit our WSDAN project pages.
  2. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  3. The King’s Fund seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, developing leaders and improving services. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health share knowledge, learning and ideas.
  4. CSIP Networks take the lead in the Care Services Improvement Partnership on integration and whole systems working and supports the Department of Health on programmes relating to personalisation, prevention and partnerships including those on promoting integrated care, developing housing with care, telecare/assistive technology and better commissioning.
  5. Telehealth is the use of a home unit to collect vital signs data about a patient and transmit it to the medical staff tracking their condition from another location via a phone-line or broadband device. This can be used to regularly monitor blood pressure or blood glucose levels for instance.

  6. Telecare is the continuous, automatic and remote monitoring of real-time emergencies in order to manage the risks associated with independent living. It includes such technologies as fall sensors, gas shut-off devices and smoke alarms.