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Telehealth crossing the digital divide

The following extract is taken from an article entitled "'Digital divide' threatens future of telehealth and telecare" published on the Building Better Healthcare website in July 2013. example of where technology has worked is at the Cumbria and Lancashire Telestroke Network, developed by Imerja and Virgin Media Business and operational in eight hospital sites across the North West.

The network provides an out-of-hours, remote video stroke diagnosis service, allowing the correct drugs to be prescribed quickly, irrespective of the doctor’s location. With 4,000 people across the Cumbria and Lancashire becoming victims of strokes each year, this innovative technology has significantly reduced the level of morbidity and mortality in the region, particularly in rural areas where healthcare is relatively inaccessible.

Ian Jackson, managing director of Imerja, said technology was constantly evolving and suppliers were listening to feedback on the future design of systems. He said: “Telehealth is continually evolving and can be adapted to many different situations. “It is widely considered that the next step for telehealth is its integration into mobile devices, enabling patients to conveniently contact their doctor using video streaming as new and emerging technology becomes more reliable and affordable. Such mobile telehealth methods would also reach thousands of nurses, support staff and GPs, widening access to convenient, timely care.” He added that telehealth would also become integrated into more specialised areas of healthcare, such as rehabilitation processes for mental health patients or prisoners. “Telehealth is coming of age as an effective measure that can harness new, affordable technology with the potential to deliver convenient, effective care to patients willing to embrace it, and provide an alternative way for an overburdened NHS to deliver outstanding health outcomes. Click here to read the full article.  

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