Community alarms to telecare: the need for a systems strategy for integrated telehealth provision
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Telecare systems are increasingly being seen as a means of providing a cost-effective response to the increasing demands placed on healthcare provision. However, in order to meet all levels of stakeholder need, there is a requirement to adopt from the very beginning an integrated, system based strategy to the definition and development of the relevant technologies which brings together and takes account of such needs while supporting effective and efficient management of limited resources, both human and financial. In particular, the resulting system must facilitate an ability to respond rapidly and effectively to changes in client need occurring through time while giving the care providers and managers access to the specific information needed to support the most effective care provision and allocation of resources. The resulting system must also not only be capable of integrating future and developing technologies but also be able to encompass existing technologies such as community alarms. Based on ongoing research, the paper considers the implications of the introduction of such a systems approach to telehealth and telecare provision and the likely impact upon health care provision in relation to prospective stakeholders.