NHS England has revealed details of the long awaited successor to its 3 Million Lives telehealth programme, which has been scrapped.

A letter from medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, sent today to organisations involved in the health and care technology, outlined the key tenets of the organisation’s new “technology enabled care services” (TECS) programme. 

The ambition of the 3 Million Lives project, to support 3 million people to use telehealth and telecare by 2017, has been ditched. However, an NHS England spokeswoman insisted it still had a “commitment to make significant progress towards [that target]” in its mandate from the government.

She added: “The focus of the [new] programme is on creating the right commissioning environment to support and encourage the innovative use of technology to improve health outcomes for patients with long term conditions and deliver more cost effective services.”

The letter said NHS England wanted to broaden its work and to address barriers preventing health and social care professionals from making best use of technology, rather than focusing on the rollout of particular types of devices.

Bruce Keogh

Sir Bruce Keogh has outlined NHS England’s new telehealth strategy in a letter to affected organisations

The new programme, a result of an NHS England review that began last year, will be underpinned by new guidance for clinical commissioning groups to be issued later in the autumn. It would help them address procurement and information governance problems, Sir Bruce said.

It will also include a set of “robust measures and metrics” to evaluate the progress of technology projects.

NHS England director for people with long term conditions Martin McShane, a member of the programme’s executive steering group, told HSJ the new “toolkit” would seek to address problems identified as priorities by commissioners and others.

Dr McShane said: “We wanted to create a resource that addressed the issues raised by [people across the system].

“This represents a significant culture shift in the way we operate. Rather than telling people what to do, we are giving them the tools to do the right thing.” 

The programme is based on a strategy developed by NHS England in recent months, called the TECS Improvement Plan, which it has refused to publish.

The original 3 Million Lives project was launched by prime minister David Cameron in December 2011 with considerable fanfare. However, it gradually unravelled because of a lack of buy-in from the NHS. NHS England announced in November that it was scrapping seven pathfinder projects.