VA to exchange health IT ideas with U.K.'s NHS

The U.S. Veterans Health Administration and the U.K.'s National Health Service have agreed to a collaboration in which each will exchange health IT knowledge and leadership ideas with one another over the course of three years, according to a new report that launches the effort published by U.K. think tank 2020health.

The aim of the collaboration, according to 2020health founder and CEO Julia Manning, is to trigger both mainstream digital health efforts in the U.K. and specialized telehealth services in the VHA.

In a foreword for the report, Adam Darkins, chief consultant for telehealth services at the VHA's Office of Patient Care Services, calls VHA and NHS "uniquely placed to develop and refine new models of care" that can take advantage of the latest technologies in healthcare. "'Early adopters' of telehealth are still in relatively short supply," he says. "[A]nd initiatives that exchange learning, enthusiasm and expertise about telehealth between health systems promulgate learning, and hasten the development of services that provide the right care in the right place at the right time."

The report outlines five areas in which the organizations can learn from each other, including:

  • How technology strategies are helping to boost patient care
  • Chronic and self-care management via remote patient monitoring
  • Video conferencing to serve as a replacement for in-person visits
  • Mobile health use to boost patient empowerment and engagement
  • Use of secure messaging and personal health records

"Previous exchanges between NHS and VHA have led to numerous service improvement projects that have implemented transferrable learning," the report's authors say. "As we are recognizing the increasing role technology has in maintaining and improving health, we are looking for increasingly efficient ways to support patients" in managing their health.

"While successful use of technology has been a key enabler to success in making digital health the first route for delivering a service, it is the underlying culture, leadership, processes and training that have been paramount to the VHA's success," adds report co-author John Cruickshank, the consultant director for 2020health, in an announcement accompanying the report.

Research published this month in BMJ, however, has determined that telehealth failed to produce gains for chronic care patients more cost effectively than standard care. That study came on the heels of previous research also published in BMJ that found telehealth produced no significant improvements in reported quality of life related to patients with anxiety or depression symptoms.

To learn more:
- download the report (.pdf)
- here's the announcement


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