A county council is claiming hundreds of sign-ups to a telehealth scheme that allows patients to take their own health readings at home and text them in to doctors via personal mobile phones.
Simple Telehealth, run by Buckinghamshire County Council in conjunction with NHS Aylesbury Vale Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group, gives patients more flexibility in their daily lives because it can save them from having to make an appointment with their GP. Almost 400 patients have signed up since it became available last October.
Adrian Timon, the council's telehealth project officer , stressed that the system is used only after GPs have assessed patients' suitability. "However, allowing people to take their own readings or bodily measurements removes the stress and anxiety that some may feel when they go to the doctor."
The phenomenon known as "physician induced hypertension" has been blamed for widespread over-prescription of blood-pressure reducing drugs around the world.
Simple Telehealth is currently mainly used for monitoring blood pressure readings. So far, 300 monitors have been distributed at a cost of around £8,000 in total to the county council. Patients are lent the monitors, and then asked to send in the results by text. These go into a secure website portal and are then viewed by the GP practice.
The innovation was first made available in Stoke-on-Trent and is being rolled out across the country by NHS England. In Buckinghamshire, it is being run by the Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups in conjunction with the council.
Buckinghamshire GP Dr Tom Davis, clinical adviser for the county council, said: "For the healthcare professionals, the technology has enabled more accurate diagnoses and reduced the need for face-to-face contact with the patient, enabling the surgery to manage its overall workload more efficiently. More importantly, patients have needed to spend less of their time in contact with healthcare professionals, have had a greater confidence in the diagnosis and management of their condition and have been supported in self-managing their conditions."