There has been a lot of speculation and comment about the QALY calculations presented as part of the King’s Fund International Telehealth and Telecare Congress earlier this month, all of which is really missing the point. (“Telehealth unlikely to be cost effective,” admit researchers leading DH pilot)
The figures quoted show that the high cost of the equipment used in the Whole Systems Demonstrator project affects the QALY results – so by the same token, if the price point for the equipment is reduced, then the cost per QALY will be significantly lower.
We must remember that this was a trial with cost-based data that is now three years out of date. Industry has moved on and so has the technology.
In my experience, just bringing the cost down is not enough – we need to look at different ways of doing business with our colleagues in industry.
You would question buying a smartphone for a few hundred pounds when you could get one on contract with regular upgrades for a monthly fee. The same could be said for telehealth.
The real point we should take from the WSD programme is the potential that telehealth gives us for reduced hospital admissions and reductions in mortality.
Translate that into reality with a significant reduction in the cost of the technology, changes to the means of payment and overall integration of the technology into services, and we address concerns over cost-effectiveness.
From Dave Tyas
Telehealth and service improvement manager, Peninsula Community Health, Bodmin, Cornwall