A YouGov survey has revealed 91 per cent of UK adults have never heard of telehealth or telecare – despite the Department of Health’s Three Million Lives campaign to promote it.

The survey of 2,054 adults was carried out during March and also found only 5 per cent knew what telehealth was.

Of those who thought they understood its meaning, some thought it meant “health programmes on TV” or “advertisements on TV in GP surgeries and other healthcare providers which promote health care services”.

Of people surveyed aged 55 or over - who are statistically more likely to be one of the 15 million people in the UK to have a long term condition - 93 per cent had never heard of telehealth and 93 per cent had never heard of telecare.

In December last year the government launched its three million lives campaign after research showed telehealth could benefit three million people living with a long term condition.

Correctly used, telehealth could deliver a 15 per cent reduction in accident and emergency visits, a 20 per cent reduction in emergency admissions, 14 per cent reduction in elective admissions, a 14 per cent reduction in bed days and an 8 per cent reduction in tariff costs, the DH believes.

Patricia Wilkie, president, National Association for Patient Participation, which is part of the Telehealth Forum said: “[Health minister] Paul Burstow recently announced that telehealth and telecare could save the NHS £1.2bn over five years, but this will be very difficult to implement if the public don’t even know what it is.

“Our research shows that we still have some way to go in letting people know what telehealth and telecare are, and how these new technologies can improve their lives.”

The Telehealth Forum is an independent body comprised of patients, patient groups and carers, as well as commissioners, GPs, nurses, academics and industry representatives.