UK report says NHS should follow VA's approach to telehealth

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) could learn a lot from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' rollout of telehealth services, according to a new report from London-based healthcare think tank 2020health.

Specifically, the report's authors said the VA's system has made "better use of scarce clinical resources," while at the same time being cost effective. They also lauded the fact that while the program initially was designed to manage patients with chronic conditions and post-traumatic stress disorder, it now is being used for more preventative measures.

The authors came up with detailed plan for the NHS to introduce telehealth that included recommendations regarding:

  • A push for senior leadership
  • Considerable investment and time to generate results
  • Design and accreditation of care pathways on a national scale
  • Step-change increases in the scale of telehealth implementation
  • Better clinician engagement

Because both programs are funded and operated by the federal government and are "fully integrated, national healthcare systems" the report's authors called the comparisons valid.

"The current NHS approach to the delivery of care to people with long-term conditions is widely recognized as unsustainable both in terms of cost and quality of care," the authors said. "NHS can learn many lessons from the [VA's] overall strategy to integrated care and its use of telehealth technologies."

To learn more:
- read the report