An annual survey to establish the level of public awareness of telehealth has revealed nine out of 10 adults have never heard of it.

The findings come in spite of the national 3millionlives campaign by the Department of Health which aimed to increase knowledge of services which can help people manage their own conditions in a community setting.

The research, commissioned by the National Telehealth Forum - an independent body comprising patients, patient groups, commissioners, GPs, nurses, academics and industry bodies and charities - quizzed a representative sample of 2,066 adults in the UK and found 90 per cent had never heard of telehealth.

Of those aged 55 and over - who are statistically more likely to be one of the 15 million people with a long term condition - 92 per cent had never heard of telehealth.

While 10 per cent of all respondents said they had heard of telehealth, only 4 per cent said they knew what it was. A similar survey last year found 9 per cent of people had heard of telehealth, and 5 per cent knew what it was.

Simon O’Neill, director of health intelligence at Diabetes UK which is a member of the National Telehealth Forum, said: “This research indicates there is still a long way to go in helping people understand telehealth and its benefits. We know of people who refer to a telehealth service as ‘their guardian angel’ and yet awareness of its benefits is still very low. The forum is determined to correct that.”

Carl Atkey, head of Appello Telehealth, a provider of equipment and a founding member of the forum, said work was being done to prepare more meaningful information to the public. He added: “While we completely support the 3millionlives campaign’s aims we believe a more granular approach will help make them a reality.”

Some people who said they had heard of telehealth thought it meant how much TV they watched or it was a new TV programme.

YouGov carried out the research between 4 and 6 June with a total sample size of 2,066 people. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults.