Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has outlined NHS England’s plans for further developing Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS).
In a letter written to around 250 key stakeholders, NHS England’s National Medical Director calls on them to support the programme that takes the NHS into a new and exciting technological era that will help empower patients and improve health outcomes.
Sir Bruce has told a broad range of organisations from across health, social care, industry, and the third sector: “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 smart phone configured for medical applications, coupled with wearable biosensors and capable of sensing, analysing and displaying vital signs and alerting you and your clinicians to significant changes or deterioration wherever you are, rather than through check-ups at a hospital or GP practice. Any escalation in a condition could be identified and addressed in a timely and proactive way. It would lead to better health outcomes while being more convenient for the patient, their carer and their clinician.
“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.”
Sir Bruce 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, adding: “One opportunity lies in the fact that people increasingly want to own and control their own healthcare. By harnessing the power of digital technology we can help by empowering people to manager their care in a way that is right for them.”
The TECS programme has been born out of its predecessor, the 3millionlives programme, which Sir Bruce says “went some way towards making a clear case for tele-health and tele-care – 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 Sir Bruce. “Our ambition is to create the right commissioning environment that supports and encourages the innovative use of technology to improve health outcomes, empower patients, and deliver more cost-effective services as part of a modern model of integrated care.
The TECS Stakeholder Forum’s collective views and proposals on how to address the barriers to wider adoption now form the basis of the TECS Improvement Plan 2014-17.
“I am eager to share the important proposals which you collectively identified as being key to delivering improved patient care and operational efficiency through TECS. I am confident that these proposals are the right way forward and will move us closer towards achieving the ambition to improve the lives of people with long term conditions through the use of TECS.”
Sir Bruce explains: “To ensure continued progress, we have brought together a TECS Implementation Group consisting of experts and leaders from across these sectors whose remit is to support the strategic development and delivery of the proposals within the Improvement Plan. In addition, we have formed the TECS Executive Steering Group which meets regularly to provide clinical, technological and strategic leadership for the programme at a director level in NHS England.”
An online toolkit, aimed at helping commissioners and health and social care professionals maximise the benefits of TECS, will be launched later this autumn.