A number of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are among those set to sign deals to bring telehealth technology to 100,000 people next year
Speaking at the Age UK conference, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed seven 'pathfinders' made up of NHS and local authority organisations – including CCGs – are on the verge of agreeing contracts to allow thousands of people with long-term conditions to benefit from telehealth equipment.
It is claimed technology companies will be supplying the NHS with the telehealth technologies and services at "no upfront cost".
"I want to free people with long-term conditions from the constant merry-go-round of doctors' surgeries and hospitals," said Hunt.
"Technology can help people manage their condition at home, free up a lot of time and save the NHS money. In a world where technology increasingly helps us manage our social and professional lives, it seems logical that it should also help people manage their health.
"With our industry partners, we will make England a world leader on telehealth. Getting another 100,000 people to benefit from this technology is a very important step and I congratulate all involved on their hard work. I hope it will be the first of many steps towards our overall goal of getting three million people to benefit in the years to come."
The move is part of the government's overall ambition to make progress towards the goal of three million people using telehealth services by 2017. The NHS Commissioning Board will be tasked with leading on promoting telehealth from April 2013.
"The seven pathfinders that are offering this new technology to patients will give the NHS Commissioning Board important insight into how best to extend this option to any patient managing prolonged ill health or a chronic condition," said Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board.
"Working closely with the local commissioners involved and informed by their experience, we plan to promote vigorously the use of telehealth across England from next April."
Findings from the Whole System Demonstrator programme showed that using telehealth could result in a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, a 15% reduction in A&E visits and a 45% reduction in mortality.