Tunstall welcomes report on benefits of telehealth

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HEALTHCARE firm the Tunstall Group has welcomed a report from the BMJ which concludes that the use of telehealth can reduce deaths and the need for emergency hospital care.

However, the report stated that the estimated size of hospital cost savings from telehealth was modest, and may not be enough to offset the cost of the technology.

Tunstall’s telehealth devices allow patients to check their blood pressure and heartbeat, using simple pieces of kit.

Tunstall’s systems automatically raise the alarm if a patient’s health is deteriorating, allowing early intervention and reducing hospital visits. The group’s telecare systems allow 24-hour monitoring of patients. They include fall detectors, bed and chair occupancy sensors, panic alarms, property exit sensors and movement detectors.

Simon Arnold, the managing director, of Tunstall Healthcare, said: “The BMJ paper confirms that patients with telehealth were significantly less likely to die and experienced significantly lower hospital bed days and admissions, when compared with those patients without the use of telehealth.

“This is absolutely complementary to our work with partners elsewhere in the UK and provides an indisputable evidence base that commissioners and clinicians need to make decisions about the care of patients in the future.”

Tunstall, based in Whitley Bridge near Selby, develops technology which allows patients to test their ‘vital signs’ from the comfort of their homes, without the need for a visit from a healthcare worker.

In the year ended September 30 2011, Tunstall’s group turnover was £143.3m, down from £147.9m the year before.

The group recorded a profit before interest and tax of £21.9m, compared with £22m in the previous year.

A spokesman said the group had maintained its profit performance by controlling costs.

UK revenues declined by 2.9 per cent to £64.5m, which was largely due to the poor recovery of the housing market which contributed to a delay in new build projects and upgrades.

In a directors’ report to accompany the financial statement, Tunstall said it had experienced “exciting developments in the UK markets” in the current financial year, including a contract to support 25,000 people in Birmingham.