Digital Health and Telehealth

News Blog readers know that the CLAHRC WM Director waxes hot and cold about digital health – while it holds immense potential to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care, these advantages are seldom realised because of poor design, and the technology has the immense potential to damage the all-precious doctor-patient relationship  (see previous post). Some very encouraging results are reported in a recent viewpoint article in JAMA.[1] First, a tele-monitoring programme in the community reduced admissions for patients with cardiac failure by detecting deterioration early – quite an unusual result, and it would be interesting to find out why this application succeeded where so many others have failed. Second, a tele-ICU programme claimed to reduce mortality, length of stay, and malpractice claims across a number of hospitals – we will report on this study in more detail in a future blog. However, the viewpoint article also shows that the smartphone app industry is out of control with 100,000 health applications available on iTunes alone. Two thirds of apps to calculate insulin dosages provided the wrong answer, for example. Whether this genie can be squeezed back into the bottle is very doubtful.

 — Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Agboola SO, Bates DW, Kvedar JC. Digital Health and Patient Safety. JAMA. 2016; 315(16): 1697-8.

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