Telehealth could save NHS England £7.5bn

Hands of scientist working on digital tablet

Adopting digital health tools such as telehealth services across the region could save NHS England £7.5 billion, according to a new white paper.

The research conducted by Now Healthcare Group (NHG) found that the use of telehealth/digital consultations removed the need for an NHS GP appointment in 56% of cases and a hospital appointment in 3% of cases.

If digital health via app-based tech was rolled out across the population, it could potentially save £7.5 billion on public health services in England, the white paper said.

This included £2.2 billion potential annual savings by redirecting patients via app-based tech to non-GP consultations.

The figures, which are based on live Now Healthcare data combined with publicly available NHS and academic sources, also showed that 27% of consultations via the app did not need to be handled by a GP and 41% could have been handled by another healthcare professional such as a pharmacist or nurse – suggesting that if an effective pre-triage function was set up within a telehealth app, patient pressure on GPs could be reduced by up to 73%.

Usage of adherence technology also improved the probability of patients sticking to their medication schedule by 41%.

Eighty percent of NHG’s patients surveyed said that if the digital platform was not available to them, they would have attended their NHS GP surgery.

The findings back up the goals of the government’s long term plan for the NHS, which looks to “open a digital ‘front door’ to the health service” by allowing patients to access healthcare at the touch of a button.

A report by Global Market Insights late last year said that the global telehealthcare segment is expected to witness a 27.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the coming years thanks to a rising geriatric population base, increasing demand for home-based remote monitoring systems, rising incidences of chronic disorders and government initiatives.

The UK digital health market was valued at $4 billion in 2017, and the report predicted that early adoption of telecare services, large central government programmes for telecare and a strong existing base of hardware – as well as increasing prevalence of smartphones and apps – will escalate the UK digital health market size in coming years.