A report has been published in Wales highlighting the importance of integrating technology into delivering care in order to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare services, particularly in rural areas.
The report is the result of a two year programme of work led by the Rural Health Implementation Group (RHIG) to test and evaluate new ways of delivering care, to address the specific healthcare issues facing people in rural communities, and to ensure care is delivered in the future to better meet their needs.
The report identifies ‘telemedicine’ as being of particular value. Telemedicine can be defined as the practice of medical care using interactive audio, visual and data communications. This includes the delivery of medical care, diagnosis, consultation and treatment, as well as health education and the transfer of medical data.
The report outlines a number of projects successfully using telemedicine within the NHS in Wales, and includes examples of the positive outcomes achieved such as patients being able to engage more easily with consultants and higher satisfaction levels with the care they received.
The report identifies scope for continued development of telemedicine services and telehealth more generally across Wales to further benefit patients and NHS staff. This includes:
- Supporting a shift towards more home-based or local care in the community – minimising the need to travel to hospital unless absolutely necessary.
- Increased opportunity to work collaboratively within health (between primary and community care with secondary care) and across with social care.
- Supporting improved communication between staff – including video-conferencing and sharing of timely information to support decision making.
- Empowering people to take increased responsibility for their own health.
- Supporting efficient working practices to enable right treatment at the right time in the right place.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM announced that the Welsh Government is providing £9.5 million through its new Health Technology and Telehealth Fund to support care closer to home.”
You can read the full report here.