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Shaping the future of telehealth services in Cheshire and Merseyside

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside is the biggest single telehealth provider in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe with 2,500 people connected and aspirations to grow to over 5,000 users in the future. It has grown rapidly in recent years during and after Covid, and with more people receiving care on virtual wards or choosing remote monitoring for long-term conditions.

As the time to “recommission” its existing telehealth platform approached, it became clear to C&M Integrated Care Board and telehealth leadership that a clear, long-term vision was needed to keep pace with technology, receive value for money and provide world-class care.

To help them do this, they approached Health Innovation North West Coast to lead the stakeholder and market engagement process. Peter Almond, Head of Telehealth Services, said:

“We wanted innovation to be at the heart of telehealth services in Cheshire and Merseyside, so it made good sense to bring in Health Innovation NWC. Through their engagement work with suppliers, patients, clinicians, and telehealth staff, we feel we’ve captured everything we need to make the specification for the future service the best that it can be.”

One hope is that the future telehealth platform will be ‘flexible’ and able to connect with more existing and future applications and hardware – such as novel remote monitoring equipment or consumer devices that haven’t yet been adopted or even brought to market. This is also why Cheshire and Merseyside are looking to recommission the service by five to seven years.

Support delivered by Health Innovation NWC included: 

  • engaging with telehealth platform suppliers regarding the opportunity, and then facilitating two showcase events with 13 suppliers, where NHS staff, local authorities, carers and telehealth users could test equipment, ask questions, and provide feedback to suppliers and Mersey Care on functionality and features they would value, in order to inform the specification for the future service.
  • a series of online “rapid insight sessions”, engaging key stakeholders to provide their insight and feedback via guided questions.
  • job shadowing of telehealth hub staff to understand current technology and processes, what works well and what could be improved.
  • one to one interviews with key contacts, such specialist clinicians, and virtual wards consultants.
  • engagement with the nine local authorities in Cheshire and Merseyside, ensuring their requirements were incorporated into the specification to allow for any potential future integration with telecare systems.
  • online surveys with current telehealth users to understand their needs and what could be improved. 

Adrian Quinn, Health Innovation NWC Senior Programme Manager, said:

“Our support and collaboration with the telehealth team grew as engagement progressed, and we are really proud of the quality of engagement with all stakeholders. 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.”

In January 2024, Health Innovation North West Coast distilled the feedback from all stakeholders into approximately 50 requirements for potential incorporation into the service specification, which would be used in the tender.

Adrian says:

“Suppliers and consortiums should have no surprises when the tender is issued as they have been engaged throughout.”

The tender for the new telehealth service is going out 31 May 2024 and closes 5 July 2024. Announcements about the new provider is expected to be 1 October 2024.


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