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Telemedicine

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research the Government have done into the risks associated with telemedicine. [111021]

The Department has an extensive programmed of research into all aspects of health care, including telecare and telehealthcare. Specific major projects on telecare and telehealthcare include an economic evaluation carried out by the Health Economic Research Group in the area of paediatrics, and a 'virtual outreach' study by the Health Technology Assessment Programme.Clinical effectiveness and patient safety are, of course, paramount concerns, and before any new medical technology is used, it must, as a minimum, comply with UK and European regulations for medical devices, and with clinical protocols agreed with the relevant professional bodies.Details of Department of Health research programmes are published online at: http://www. disco.port.ac.uk/ictri/ The Department also supports the Telemedicine Information Service (www.tis.bl.uk), which covers telemedicine and telecare research and development projects.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent assessment he has made of the use of telehealthcare devices in the monitoring and treatment of chronic diseases; and if he will make a statement; [111178](2) what recent assessment he has made of the financial and care benefits of the use of telecare and telehealthcare; [111179](3) if he will estimate the potential savings to his Department of the use of telecare and telehealthcare devices; [111181](4) what guidance he will issue to local authorities and primary care trusts in the use of telehealthcare and telecare units which monitor patients health care and the environment in which they live; [111176](5) what recent discussions his Department has had with

(a) other Departments of State and (b) the commissioners and providers of community based health and social care about the use of telecare devices; [111177]

(6) what recent assessment he has made of the use of telecare devices to promote early discharges and independent community based living. [111174]

The Department has an extensive programme of research into all aspects of health care, including telecare and telehealthcare. Specific major projects on telecare and telehealthcare include an economic evaluation carried out by the Health Economic Research Group in the area of paediatrics, and a 'virtual outreach' study by the Health Technology Assessment Programme. The Department also has ongoing discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry on the deployment and use of telemedicine and telecare.Details of Department of Health research programmes are published online at: http://www. disco.port.ac.uk/ictri/ The Department also supports the Telemedicine Information Service (www.tis.bl.uk), which covers telemedicine and telecare research and development projects.The Department also has on-going discussions with local authorities and primary care trusts on the implementation of integrated care records services, including where relevant and appropriate, the deployment of telemedicine and telecare. The potential of telecare devices in the monitoring and treatment of chronic diseases, and to support early discharge and independent community living is well understood. The use of telehealthcare and telecare units is being taken forward by a number of local health communities where they are most appropriate to local needs and local working practices, and can deliver real benefits to patient care. The Department of Health's Modernisation Agency is in place to support new practices and innovative approaches, and will help to make a significant contribution in this area.Clinical effectiveness and patient safety are, of course, paramount concerns, and before any new medical technology is used, it must, as a minimum, comply with UK and European regulations for medical devices, and with clinical protocols agreed with the relevant professional bodies.