NHS Cheshire and Merseyside is gearing up to develop an innovative telehealth platform designed to integrate seamlessly with existing and future healthcare applications and hardware. This strategic move aims to enhance the region’s telehealth capabilities, reflecting the increasing importance of digital health solutions in modern medical practice.

The partnership, encompassing trusts, GP practices, local authorities, and pharmacies, is recognized as the largest telehealth service provider in the UK. To ensure the new platform meets the evolving needs of patients and healthcare professionals, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside has collaborated with Health Innovation North West Coast, the regional arm of the NHS Health Innovation Network. This collaboration has involved extensive feedback gathering from stakeholders, which will inform the specifications of the new platform.

The process of selecting a suitable provider is well underway, with NHS Cheshire and Merseyside planning to publish a tender by the end of this month. The goal is to announce the chosen provider by early October, setting the stage for the development and deployment of the new telehealth system.

Health Innovation North West Coast has played a pivotal role in this initiative, supporting the process through various steps. These include engaging with potential platform suppliers, conducting rapid insight sessions with stakeholders, job shadowing telehealth hub staff to gain a comprehensive understanding of current technologies and workflows, and interviewing key contacts such as specialist clinicians and virtual ward consultants. Additionally, surveys of current telehealth users and engagement with local authorities within the partnership have provided valuable insights into user needs and expectations.

Adrian Quinn, Senior Programme Manager at NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, emphasized the long-term vision for this project. “If we get the kind of long-term investment and partnership with a supplier (or consortium of suppliers) that we hope to achieve, it will have a lasting benefit on patients and staff for years to come and take telehealth to the next level. We hope to stay involved in the development of the service as it grows,” Quinn stated.

The new telehealth platform is expected to be highly flexible, with the capability to integrate with novel remote monitoring equipment and emerging consumer health devices. This adaptability is crucial as it will allow the platform to evolve in line with technological advancements and changing healthcare needs.