New ways of working and technologies have been adopted by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust as part of its response to COVID-19 to ensure it can continue to treat patients.
One such technology the Trust has deployed is video consultations using the Attend Anywhere/accuRx software. This allows certain patients to be seen and assessed via a secure video link which provides additional benefits over a telephone call, whilst maintaining social distancing. Patients also benefit in terms of time and cost as there is no requirement to travel or pay for parking.
Eleanor Whitfield, specialist speech and language therapist, said her service has really seen the benefit of using video consultations.
She said: “We are trying to get most of our consultations done via telehealth. It has been working really well. One mum managed to connect it to her television! We have had some real successes with the technology. I have been able to use it to carry out initial assessments, initial contacts, reviews and ongoing therapy.”
The Trust carried out approximately 2,000 video consultations for outpatient appointments from April to September. A recent survey revealed 92 per cent of patients who used the video consultations were happy.
Ryan Sutton, senior improvement project manager, said: “We have upgraded 180 clinic rooms with webcams, microphones and screens to enable our clinicians to use video consultations. The number of video consultations has been increasing.
“If you have patient that cannot easily get into the hospital or someone that needs patient transport, it makes it so much easier if they can have a video consultation. There are lots of benefits from a patient point of view including not having to park, pay travel or parking costs and patients can wait to be seen in the comfort of their own homes.”
Patients can see their clinician remotely through a video feed on their devices, including phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. This helps to support patients during the pandemic but also beyond: it enables the Trust to keep appointments going now, reducing unnecessary travel and the risk of transmitting the virus.
In the future, it will provide patients with greater flexibility around their appointments. Some patients may be offered a phone consultation rather than a video call and others will continue to be seen in person due to the nature of their appointment.
Whilst this technology isn’t suitable for every patient, it is an additional method to those historically used. Patients will be contacted and offered a video consultation where it has been identified as clinically beneficial to do so.