Welsh telehealth pilots save £2.2m

Three demonstrator projects in Wales testing new ways of managing chronic conditions including use of predictive risk software and telehealth have reported NHS savings of at least £2.2 million in the last year.

The Chronic Conditions Management demonstrator sites in Carmarthenshire, Cardiff and Gwynedd have published a report on the second year of their three year project showing improving patient care, reduced emergency admissions and NHS savings.

All three sites are also using the Welsh predictive risk tool PRISM to identify high risk patients, improved joined up working and inform priorities for community based services.

The projects in Carmarthenshire and Gwynedd are also running a randomised controlled trial which began in 2009 to demonstrate the feasibility of implementing telehealth and telecare for patients with chronic conditions including COPD, heart failure, diabetes.

Other projects run by the demonstrators in the wide ranging programme include moving clinics out of hospital and into the community, greater multidisciplinary working and integrated health and social care work, the introduction of a virtual clinic which involves consultants visiting GPs to review referrals and the trialling of an e-mail consultation service between GPs and consultants.

The second year report shows a total fall in bed days across the three demonstrator sites between 2008 and 2009 of 27% for Carmarthenshire, 26% for Cardiff and 16.5% for Gwynedd.

There was also a 10.8% reduction over two years in the number of emergency medical admissions for chronic conditions which NHS Wales has estimated saved a total of £2.4m for the health service.

Welsh health minister Edwina Hart said the rest of the NHS could learn from the pilot sites so that further improvements could be made across Wales.

She added: “This report shows how by providing more support and care for people with chronic conditions in the community we are reducing pressure on hospital services.

“This is not only improving the health and quality of life of patients but savings resources and money for the NHS.”

The demonstrator projects are due to run until March 2011.