'Telehealth has the potential to significantly change our health systems'

16 September 2015

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Dr Thomas Callender is an NHS doctor and a researcher for the George Institute for Global Health UK. Here he explains his work on healthcare innovation, and the impact telehealth could have on health services.

To explain to people what I do I say...

I’m in training as a hospital physician, but mainly work in two different research areas. The first is to use big data sets to explore problems in cardiovascular medicine. The second is that I work as part of a team that is trialling solutions in telehealth with the aim of improving services and outcomes in heart failure.

How long have you been working at The George Institute?

I started with The George Institute in July 2013, and have continued in between different clinical jobs since then.

What attracted you to working at The George Institute?

I was attracted by both the openness and enthusiasm of those people working there, and the type of work that was being done. The George Institute spans both big data analysis and practical implementation of solutions, something that I’m very interested in!

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a number of things. I’m currently attempting to analyse the UK’s national audit data on percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) to explore variation in service provision and outcomes across the country. I’m also part of the SUPPORT-HF 2 trial under Professor Rahimi which is a telehealth trial exploring the use of algorithms, remote monitoring, and personalised management.

Outside of work I’m also particularly interested in climate change and health, and building a sustainable healthcare system. To this end I’ve recently set up an initiative to make carbon reporting a routine aspect in healthcare systems and research.

What difference will this make to healthcare and why?

Understanding variation in provision and mortality is important in designing a more effective healthcare system and giving patients the best possible treatments in the right place and at the right time. Telehealth is likely to have a great role in the future of medicine and has the potential to significantly change our health systems and our relationship with both our own health and doctors.

Climate change has been described as one of the greatest threats to global health, and health systems are large emitters – the US healthcare system produces as much carbon dioxide equivalent as Australia! Measuring our footprint is the first step to acknowledging the impact that we have on the environment, and designing measures to improve the sustainability of the industry.