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Telehealth schemes "ineffective"

Ineffective computer systems are causing NHS patients to miss out on improved treatment and care, a Scottish Parliament committee has claimed.

The expansion of so-called telehealth schemes, in which healthcare is provided to patients down the phone, must be addressed by the Scottish Government, the Health Committee said.

The MSPs criticised "clinical portals" and the telehealth schemes that have been provided in the last 10 years and called for improved safeguards to protect the privacy of patients.

Clinical portals are IT systems which store medical data on patients across Scotland and can be accessed by medical staff anywhere.

Committee convener, Christine Grahame, said: "If used effectively and efficiently, technology such as clinical portals and telehealth could make a huge difference to the quality of care and treatment patients receive across Scotland.

"It also has the potential to release much-needed resources in these economically difficult times for front-line patient services. However, our committee report reveals that the Scottish Government has some serious work to do in encouraging health boards to use and evaluate this technology.

"We hope the government will act on our recommendations regarding patient rights, professional standards, funding and staff training by 2014 at the latest."

Scottish Centre For Telehealth

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I am a little surprised at this comment when a telehealth initiative has been running across Argyll and Bute for almost 12 months now with proven success. It is not a phone based service but any data is stored securely and is stringently checked by NHS IT depts before agreement is given. I suggest the committee review telehealth of this type to ensure they have the fullest possible picture" - Lynn Garrett, NHS Highland