Telemonitoring service provided by TF3 Consortium is transforming care by supporting patients with long-term conditions to manage their own health

TelemonitoringNI is the largest telemonitoring service in the UK and Northern Ireland. The service, provided by TF3 in conjunction with the five health and social care trusts, is transforming the care of 1000 people with long-term conditions, and is set to benefit up to 20,000 people over six years by enabling better control over their own health and improving care outcomes.

With the fastest growing population in the UK, the prevalence of long-term conditions in Northern Ireland - such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes - is expected to increase by 30%. According to the Northern Ireland Executive, a 4% increase in demand for services by 2015 would mean an additional 23,000 hospital admissions, 48,000 outpatient appointments and 40,000 999 ambulance responses.

TF3 consortium, which comprises of Tunstall Healthcare, Fold Housing Association and S3 Group, was awarded the 'end-to-end' managed service last year, representing an investment of £18m by the Department of Health, Social Services and the Centre for Connected Health and Social Care, Public Health Agency (CCHSC).

The telemonitoring service, which allows patients to take their readings at home and automatically send information directly to the health care provider via a telephone link, marks an important step in the modernisation of the Northern Ireland health and social care delivery system. The service aims to improve outcomes for patients with earlier intervention, prevent deterioration of their condition and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Marie Farren, wife and carer of Michael who suffers from Diabetes, said: "Everything just fell into place once telemonitoring was fitted; Michael hasn't had a hospital admission or infection since. We really appreciate the support, especially as I am the primary carer for Michael and sometimes you feel as though you're the only one doing it, but with the support of the service I have been able to better care for Michael and he is much happier, which feels great."

Eddie Ritson, Programme Director of CCHSC, PHA, said: "The roll-out of Telemonitoring NI represents a significant step towards providing quality care for the growing number of people with chronic illnesses who want to live at home while having their conditions safely managed.

"A patient will take vital sign measurements at home, usually on a daily basis, and these are automatically transmitted to the Tf3 system, where they may be monitored by the triage team. If the patient's readings cause concern, a nurse will contact them by phone and if necessary the patient's clinician will be alerted to enable them to take appropriate action.

"Telemonitoring is an excellent example of how modern technology can help deliver a better service for the patient and also allow more efficient use of the healthcare professional's time and skills."

Kevin McSorley, Service Delivery Director at TF3, says: "The telemonitoring service has worked so well due to the commitment of the partnership between TF3, CCHSC and the Trusts to always put the patient at the centre of what we do, leading to improved quality of care outcomes. Telemonitoring is a tool to enable trusts to deliver their Strategic Implementation Plans for 'Transforming Your Care' objectives. We're already transforming the care of 1000 patients, and we expect to achieve 400,000 monitored patient days this year, equating to around 2,200 patients."

The TF3 Consortium has established a unique clinical triage service staffed by nurses that connects all five health and social care trust professionals in a safe and simple manner. The ability to carry out an online referral, which is automatically populated through the health and care number system via the ICP infrastructure, is incredibly powerful, connecting patients with professionals and the potential to reduce the number of hospital admissions.

The benefits of telehealth were recently detailed in a British Medical Journal peer reviewed paper*. The paper found that "Emergency admissions were reduced by 20% and mortality rates were reduced by 45% as a result of telehealth."