The NHS has outlined plans for further developing Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS).
In a letter written to around 250 key stakeholders, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh,
NHS England’s national medical director, calls on them to support a programme that will "take the NHS into a new and exciting technological era" that will "help empower patients and improve health outcomes".
Keogh says, “Present and emerging technologies offer opportunities for us to transform the way we engage in, and control, our own healthcare.
“Imagine the degree of personal control that could be afforded by a smartphone configured for medical applications, coupled with wearable biosensors capable of sensing, analysing and displaying vital signs and alerts to clinicians."
Such solutions could reduce the need for check-ups at a hospital or GP practice, he said.
“This is the future of healthcare. Twenty years from now, we will use technology to access our health services as a matter of course. That future is fast approaching as technologies constantly evolve, adapt and improve,” he said.
Keogh points out that a growing older population – with an estimated three million people living with three or more long-term conditions by 2018 – is only going to increase pressure on the NHS.
"People increasingly want to own and control their own healthcare. By harnessing the power of digital technology we can help by empowering people to manage their care in a way that is right for them,” said Keogh.
The TECS programme has been born out of its predecessor, the 3millionlives programme, which Keogh says “went some way towards making a clear case for telehealth and telecare – and there are now a number of examples of tele-interventions being used very successfully.”
NHS England undertook a review of the programme in April 2013 which has led to a shift in the strategic direction of the TECS programme.
“The TECS programme has been re-focused to address the demand from health and social care professionals for support and practical tools to commission, procure, implement and evaluate technology enabled care services,” writes Keogh.
An online toolkit, aimed at helping commissioners and health and social care professionals maximise the benefits of TECS, will be launched later this autumn.