• Senior NHS manager highlights the importance of telemedicine in rural healthcare

Senior NHS programme and project manager, Keith Bentham, has highlighted the health benefits that technology is bringing to residents in rural areas.

In a post on the NHS England website, Bentham drew attention to Morecambe Bay’s Better Care Together Vanguard which aims to improve healthcare in North Lancashire and South Cumbria.

One initiative that the vanguard has brought in is a telemedicine link between the GP surgery in Millom and the A&E department in Barrow-in-Furness. The link means that GPs can avoid unnecessarily sending patients to A&E by having a specialist doctor examine them via video link.

Bentham explained: “The high definition (HD) camera is so good that the clinician on the other end can see detailed close-ups of the patient in order to help them diagnose. This link – and a similar one to the GP out of hours service can save patients a long journey and also help prevent the town’s ambulance being unavailable for long periods of time – potentially life-saving.”

The vanguard programme has also used telemedicine to improve the way healthcare is delivered to prisoners. Remote consultations between patients in custody and their doctors reduces the amount spent on transport and accompanying prison officers.

Telehealth can be facilitated by video links between computers, tablets or smartphones.