The system has made life easier for doctors and patients on the isle of Bute off Scotland's west coast and is also helping to save the NHS thousands by reducing the need for costly hospital admissions.
A total of 15 HomePods were installed on the island in March 2009 and the benefits were immediately apparent when, just weeks after the project went live, the first unplanned hospital admission was avoided. The innovative project has secured NHS Highland, Argyll & Bute Council and Telehealth Solutions a major industry award.
NHS Highland's Project Manager Lynn Garrett and Telehealth Solutions' Product Manager Charles Lowe collected the coveted Improvement and Innovation Award at the Scottish Health Awards in Edinburgh in November.
The award was a fitting pinnacle to the success enjoyed by the pioneering project since its inception. Early evaluations would suggest that further admissions have been saved but a structured evaluation, carried out in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands, will shortly be conducted. Once the results are known the findings will be shared with other health authorities.
One of the major benefits is the freedom it gives patients to manage conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A progressive disease, which can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms, the symptoms of COPD escalate for many Scots during the cold winter months. According to the British Lung Foundation, COPD kills more than 4,000 Scots a year and, given cold weather also heightens the risks posed by chest infections, the news that modern telehealth technology is riding to the rescue couldn't have come at a better time.
With the easy-to-use HomePod, people can monitor their vital signs on a daily basis, checking things like lung function and blood pressure. And once the information is processed into the HomePod all the information is then sent on to their GP at the surgery.
Lynn Garrett, NHS Highland project manager, said: "The main benefit of the new HomePod system is that it helps people to stay as well as possible for a longer period of time in their own homes.
"It also helps GPs monitor patients without leaving their surgery and also allows them to take action at an early stage should the person's condition start to deteriorate.
"Even if the patient with the HomePod does not do the checks the system will alert the GPs to this fact so they can get in touch to check everything is as it should be. The advent of telehealth is particularly good news for people on islands like Luing and Bute, where there is no doctor."
Telehealth Solution's executive chairman Jeremy Cummin, the force behind the emergence of the Watford-based firm three years ago, is frank about the reaction the advanced firm's technology has sparked among users.
He said: "This is a very exciting time for Telehealth Solutions. Not only is the firm expanding rapidly, our groundbreaking technology is now really starting to make a difference in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
"From our experience and the feedback from medical professionals, patients love the HomePod as it offers them an unprecedented sense of freedom and also peace of mind that they are taking charge of their own health.
"Crucially, it also removes the temptation for self-diagnosis, either through books and magazines or on the Internet, which is all too common but which can also be very dangerous.
"For today's NHS professionals, many bound by budget constraints, offering patients the chance to take charge of their own health where appropriate - and with remote medical guidance - is a fantastic step forward."
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About Telehealth Solutions
Tehealth Solutions was founded in 2006 to bring the convergence of technology and changing clinical practice to the benefit of patients and clinicians. The company has grown rapidly and now has 20 employees who are dedicated to providing the most secure, scalable and robust methods for collecting information from patients, without the need for clinical intervention, and getting that information into the hands of the clinicians and carers who are looking after those patients.