UCL News


Research to evaluate healthcare in the home

6 August 2009


Telehealth device to monitor blood pressure ucl.ac.uk/slms" target="_self">UCL School of Life & Medical Sciences

UCL researchers have been awarded almost £3 million to lead a research project on electronic technologies that could change the future of health and social care provision.

Professor Stanton Newman, Director of the UCL Unit of Behavioural Medicine, is leading the evaluation of the Department of Health initiative to test telehealth and telecare technologies. These technologies use electronic communication to deliver healthcare in the home - usually directly from patient to clinician.

Telehealth devices are used to support patients with, for example, heart failure or diabetes, and enable patients and healthcare professionals to communicate. This means that a diabetes patient could use the device to analyse their blood glucose levels and enter these findings on a secure website that is shared with their healthcare professional, enabling them to interact with their healthcare professional remotely whilst in their own home. Other examples of these devices include blood pressure monitoring and medication reminders.

Telecare devices are designed to help manage the risks of independent living and support people in their own home. They include detectors to establish whether, for example, an elderly patient has fallen, movement sensors and bed/chair occupancy sensors.

The grant, awarded from the Department of Health Policy Research Programme, will enable the biggest trials of telecare and telehealth technologies yet conducted. It has been awarded to constitute an independent evaluation to inform Department of Health policy and the potential roll-out of such devices across the country.

Professor Newman said: "These devices could change the way in which we conduct and deliver social and health care services in the future. One of the questions that we hope this research will answer is: can these technologies improve the quality of life for different groups of patients while also building up to the SMART home of the future to support people to remain independent?"

Image above left: A telehealth device to monitor blood pressure


UCL context

The UCL Unit of Behavioural Medicine focuses principally on the psychological and social issues as well as the treatment, management and delivery of care to those with chronic physical disease and the elderly and informal carers.