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Report

Remote Health Management: Reducing Bed Blocking in the NHS

This report calls for the Department of Health to create a standardised Remote Health Management network by 2020.

The NHS’s capacity is stretched. This pressure is partly due to the rise in frail and ageing patients who cannot be discharged from acute hospitals. Despite the Department of Health (DH) providing an extra £3.5bn by 2019–20 to enable more patients to leave hospital on time, 62% of hospital bed days remain occupied by the over 65s. 

Remote Health Management (RHM) could ease the pressures of bed blocking and support care initiatives for patients outside hospital.

The report makes four key recommendations:

  1. Improving public awareness: The Department of Health (DoH) should create a programme of national public awareness to encourage acceptance of RHM technology and home-based services provided by the NHS, before the end of the ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ initiative.
  2. Changing culture with existing workforce: The NHS should draw upon its existing workforce of biomedical engineers to implement change and increase engagement in RHM systems throughout its services. It should carry out a feasibility study before the end of the Five Year Forward Plan to set targets for cost savings that could be made.
  3. Creating a national RHM network: The DoH must commit to a strategy for creating an RHM network to integrate acute and social care sectors by 2020. This needs to ensure implementation of RHM systems is undertaken across both sectors by 2022 at the latest. A key element will be standardisation of RHM technology that enables patient data to be accessed anywhere in the hospital and social care network.
  4. Simplifying funding routes & initiatives: The Government must ring-fence some of the £20-£30m identified in the Accelerated Access Review, specifically for developing RHM systems.  It should also simplify the routes to funding sources for healthcare technology and create a single pathway to funding. Government also needs to focus funding on schemes like the NHS Test Bed programme which optimises the use of different types of technology.

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