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Telehealth is about supporting people with health conditions to manage their health in a more proactive way. The devices are useful for people with heart conditions and hypertension, as well as patients with chronic asthma, diabetes, lung problems or epilepsy.

Telehealth projects are generally not as advanced as telecare services. However, they are increasingly being set up to support people with long-term health conditions and are becoming more available as GP practices start to see the benefits of people becoming more involved in their health management.

The systems are intended to complement rather than replace traditional health care, and to empower the individual to self-manage. It can reduce the frequency of check-ups at the doctor’s, ensure that issues are dealt with quickly and prevent escalation of problems that may otherwise result in a hospital admission.

Installing and monitoring a telehealth system

Telehealth devices monitor physiological activity remotely via a base unit in the home that's connected via the landline phone to a computerised database at a nominated centre. The readings are transmitted to a healthcare professional in a hospital or help centre, who then decides when or if intervention is needed.

The person is given equipment to monitor vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, body weight or blood sugar levels. They are taught how to use the equipment and how to send the information via the telephone line. The information is monitored at the centre and a clinician is alerted if there is any change to the person’s condition. This will generally mean that there can be earlier intervention, and often a quicker resolution, to any health changes.

Telecare Services Association (TSA)

The TSA) is the industry body for both telecare and telehealth. Many service providers are members of the TSA, meaning that they have signed up to, and must follow, its code of practice. The TSA provides a directory of its members to help you find a service provider in your area.

More information

  • How to buy assistive technology: practical advice on the Which? reviews area for Staying Independent at Home from the top 10 questions you should ask to how to get financial help.
  • Mobility aids: understand your relative's mobility needs and the options that are available.
  • Medication management systems: read about storing and dispensing pills and timers and apps to act as memory joggers.

Page last reviewed: November 2016
Next review due: April 2019