Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


  The Telemedicine Information Service ( run by the University of Portsmouth and the British Library, and supported by the UK Departments of Health, provides information about tele-health projects across the UK.

  The major application is NHS Direct, which allows patients and the public to consult with NHS clinicians over the telephone. There are also experimental developments looking at the use of digital TV to provide video linkage. The complementary NHS Direct Online programme provides Internet access to generic health information, and its use for generic email queries is being piloted.

  When fully implemented, the NHS Booked Admissions Programme will enable patients and the public to make and amend outpatient and GP bookings online or by telephone.

  A number of sites are integrating telemedicine into their electronic patient record development. The Department has also funded a number of ICT demonstrators that include telemedicine projects. There is also the work on pathology modernisation going forward, and again, a number of projects include telemedicine aspects.

  Some major areas of tele-health application include:

    (a)  Links between minor injury units and accident and emergency departments. These have been developed in a number of areas, often with additional facilities such as teledermatology and teleradiology links using PACS (eg Kidderminster, John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford

    (b)  Teleradiology. There are a significant number of projects where PACS systems were used to enable rapid review of radiological images, including links to district general hospitals, tertiary centres and for radiologists to work from home (eg Addenbrookes Cambridge, Cornwall, Hull—studies/medics.html)

    (c)  support for multidisciplinary team working within the management of cancer: a number of applications of telemedicine are being used within cancer networks, including x-ray transmission, use of web cameras for patients at home, teleconferencing and teleradiology (eg Edinburgh, North Merseyside—release——25th—june—2002.htm, West Suffolk Anglia Cancer Telemedicine Launch.htm)

    (d)  Teledermatology. Teledermatology services are now available at increasing numbers of NHS sites (eg Bassingham, Northants %20provided/teledermatology.htm, Whitstable—screening—clinics.htm, Somerset Coast, TDS Dermatology Ltd,

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Prepared 4 December 2002