Wales at the Forefront of Telemedicine Revolution

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 6, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Wales at the Forefront of Telemedicine Revolution

Byline: By Madeleine Brindley Western Mail

The decision by Welsh Assembly Government officials to test-drive a robotic doctor on Welsh hospital wards, reveals just how far technology is being integrated into the NHS. Wales is at the forefront of a global telehealth revolution which has the potential to reshape the way we receive healthcare. Health Editor Madeleine Brindleyreports

BOTH the Welsh Assembly Government's 10-year plan for the future of the NHS in Wales, and the vision drawn up by health professionals, patient representatives and academics, envisages a health service which is among the best in the world.

Both talk about bringing health services closer to the patient, and moving more services back into the community.

At the heart of each of the two visions is a greater use of telehealth technologies.

But these technologies are neither the stuff of science fiction or wishful thinking, nor is the idea of using them to improve health services new, as hospitals and NHS organisations throughout Wales have been using telehealth in various forms for almost a decade.

Speaking at the seventh British Irish Council, on the Isle of Man, last month, First Minister Rhodri Morgan declared that Wales was at the forefront of the telehealth revolution.

He told delegates, 'Wales has a remarkable story to tell in this area. We have been at the forefront of telemedicine development in the UK for a number of years.'

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons added, 'Telemedicine is an important area of health care which is helping to enhance the patient experience by improving access to diagnosis and treatment.

'Patients in remote parts of Wales have benefited from the use of information and communication technology to provide healthcare from a distance and therefore keep patient services local.

'As we become more reliant on technology the potential for telemedicine to make further advances in the health service in Wales is huge.'

For the past 11 years, Welsh Assembly Government officials have been working to test telehealth technology and its applications in healthcare, testing patient acceptance of the new schemes and designing and implementing the infrastructure needed to deliver it.

Over that time investment in telehealth has grown considerably in Wales, from just a few hundred thousand pounds to millions - Dr Gibbons announced a commitment to spend an additional pounds 2.7m on telehealth over the next three years, earlier this year.

Telehealth - the term telemedicine has been replaced by the broader telehealth tag - literally means creating a presence of a health professional in a place where they physically cannot be. Most of the technology is based on the principle of video conferencing and the ability to send live and real-time images and other information to a remote site.

Richard Phillips, telehealth programme manager for the Welsh Assembly Government, said, 'We're doing an awful lot of work in the NHS and in health which is not medically-orientated.

'For example, the cancer networks are spread across the whole of Wales - to bring them together on a regular basis is a fairly major undertaking.

'Telehealth is a way of removing the geography and the distances so health care professionals can employ their time more efficiently and effectively, because they are not spending all their time travelling from point to point.'

While much telehealth work has concentrated on allowing experts, professionals and NHS managers to talk face-to-face over wide geographical distances without having to spend the best part of a day travelling, telehealth also holds exciting prospects and possibilities for patients.

For example, patients living in Mid Wales who have cancer are normally referred to Swansea for treatment, which involves a long and often arduous return journey to the centre.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Wales at the Forefront of Telemedicine Revolution


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?