Telehealthcare Awareness Day
Date: 1st Jun 2016
As Telehealthcare Awareness Day is supported across the country today (Wednesday 1 June), the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Telehealth and Assisted Living (CETAL) at Buckinghamshire New University explains the importance of telehealth in today's society and the difference assistive technology makes to the everyday lives of millions of people across the world.
Firas Sarhan, who is also a rehabilitation specialist in spinal cord injury, says: "Telehealth provides a number of solutions to help improve the quality of life for people living with conditions including chronic breathing problems, diabetes, dementia, spinal cord injury, and neurological and mental health issues. It also works to provide appropriate care to the elderly and can support a wide range of other health issues too. Rather than patients having to attend hospital every three or four months for routine check-ups, their conditions can be monitored almost continually and they can be observed and treated in the convenience of their own home.
"The Department of Health believes that at least three million people could benefit from telehealth and telecare services. Society is changing and, over the next ten years, we will see an increasing number of people aged 75 and over who are living with multiple long term health conditions which will have a profound impact on health and social care delivery."
Led by Firas, CETAL provides education and training in telehealth; it also researches and evaluates telehealth services and takes on bespoke consultancy projects. The Centre has demonstration facilities for technology providers, including the Buckinghamshire Assisted Living Labs centre, based at University Campus Aylesbury Vale, where assistive technology is being exhibited, researched and developed.
"Technology and healthcare need to work side by side to continue to help patients manage their own conditions in a suitable environment," adds Firas. "Through academic and industry links, CETAL helps bridge the gap between innovation, research and implementation by bringing together potential users, industry, clinicians and academics. In order to advance skills and raise awareness of telehealth solutions, teaching and learning will need to become more accessible to clinicians, carers and patients."
Telehealth also plays an important role beyond individual patient care. Firas says: "Through remote monitoring, researchers are able to collect clinical data that is relevant to patients' physiological and psychological wellbeing. It can also collect data on self-management, lifestyle modification and medicine administration, which can be used to encourage and sustain healthy living."
To find out more about the work of CETAL at Bucks New University, visit www.cetal.co.uk.
Picture: Firas Sarhan.