UK looks to telehealth to address aging boomer population

England's National Health Service faces a funding shortfall of as much as 20 million pounds ($30.2 billion) over the next few years as the country's baby boomers age. "This is making telehealth systems a subject of great interest for governments and healthcare systems looking for answers to the seemingly intractable problems that they face; in both developed and developing countries," London-based E-Health Insider reports.

But demonstration projects in three British locales have failed to recruit enough participants, so telehealth and personal-monitoring vendors are pushing the NHS to make telehealth "mainstream rather than marginal." Growth in industry organizations like the Continua Health Alliance, which is touting standards-based device interoperability, provides some cause for optimism, though.

Greg King, director of consumer healthcare at Australian health IT vendor iSoft, says telehealth to date has wrongly focused on devices and collecting data on networks that can't handle such setups, and has wrongly been using Bluetooth connectivity. "As a result, he says, people have been obliged to live with bulky, beige boxes in prominent spots in their living rooms; when they want discrete [sic] devices with wireless connectivity that can store information until they are ready to send it from home, work, holiday cottage or sandwich shop queue by mobile phone," E-Health Insider says.

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