Tackling telehealth: how CCGs can commission successful telehealth services

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This telehealth supplement developed by the Inside Commissioning website sets out the current state of implementation of telehealth across England CCGs, the skills and technologies needed for telehealth to be successful, how CCGs can be more effective in their commissioning of telehealth services and some examples of where telehealth has been successfully implemented.

Research by GP Magazine found that 61% of CCGs were commissioning telehealth in 2013/14, but many reported that progress was slow and that there were challenges to successful implementation.  The supplement identifies learning from around the world, as well as more local considerations such as GP engagement, which can help with implementation. 

The supplement lists 10 ways to improve the commissioning of telehealth services, including:

  • Communication - identifying leaders and champions throughout the commissioning cycle – from envisaging and consultation stages, to procurement and defining service specifications, training and roll out, delivery and ongoing evaluation. 
  • Patient and public involvement and engagement for the direction and scope of commissioning of technology enabled care services. 
  • Considering how telehealth or other digital modalities such as video, telecare (assistive technology), teleconsultations or telediagnostics can be used to drive integrated care and not as standalone solutions. 
  • Focusing digital delivery of care on hotspots in patient pathways where enhancing self care or remote care of a patient’s condition with associated interventions can improve the clinical outcomes and/or avoid the use of healthcare services
  • Anticipating consequence costs before commissioning digital delivery of care.
  • Anticipating the training of health and social care professionals that will be necessary for the effective roll out of digital delivery of care. 
  • Thinking about what kind of digital delivery of care suits the particular patient population. 
  • Commissioning evaluation alongside any technology enabled care services, with interim reports that can help  to adapt digital delivery of care to different applications or settings. 
  • Considering what improvement tools should underpin your commissioning and service improvement – leadership, transformational change, service redesign. 
  • Working closely with all stakeholders. 

It explores the commissioning process used by 6 Nottinghamshire CCGs, and a protocol for using telehealth for inhaler reminders in GP practice, and profiles Flo - the telehealth system developed and owned by the NHS, and led by Stoke-on-Trent CCG.

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