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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 March, 2005, 09:44 GMT
Home computer monitors patients
A man tests the Telehealth machine
Patients can access the information on the machine
A computer that can monitor the health of seriously ill patients while at home is to be trialled in Kent.

Kent County Council (KCC) is investing in 300 Telehealth machines, which are no bigger than a typewriter.

They can take a patient's heart rate, weight, blood pressure, and temperature and test for conditions like diabetes.

The results are then sent down a standard telephone line to clinicians at hospitals or GP surgeries, alerting them to any problems.

Patient access

Dartford GP Dr David Lawrence was among a team which went to the US to see the equipment in use and will be taking part in pilot schemes.

He described it as "another tool" for people in healthcare to use, rather than a replacement for people.

"It will make better use of their resources and time and encourage patients to understand their conditions.

"The patients can access all of the information on the machine... it's there if they want it," he said.

Kent Telehealth is a partnership with Viterion and uses a touch screen, video link-up and digital cameras.

The scheme will be piloted among 275 people across Primary Care Trusts in Kent, including Ashford, Maidstone Weald, South West Kent and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, with a 1m cash injection from KCC.

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