Successfully trialled within paediatrics at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, using phones and tablets, patients are able to stay in touch with their doctor and medical service without the need to come to hospital.
Like NHS providers across the country, health professionals at DBTH have been working tirelessly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to reduce the number of people coming to the hospitals unnecessarily, this has meant fundamentally changing how the Trust manages routine appointments and activity, whilst still ensuring emergency services remain open to all those who need urgent treatment.
One way that clinicians have risen to this challenge has been the increased amount of telephone consultations with patients. Often used within what would have been outpatient appointments, these discussions can be more convenient for the patient, and allow a healthcare professionals to check-up on individuals to ensure that they are recovering well after a procedure, or instead undertaking what would be a regular or routine assessment.
While this way of working has been mostly successful, certain limitations, such as physically seeing patients to undertake a more detailed observation has been a challenge. To overcome this, the Trust’s Digital Transformation team have worked with the paediatric team at Doncaster Royal Infirmary to enable video consultations, using a system known as DrDoctor Video Consultations and AccuRx.
Similar to Facetime or Skype, this service allows both doctor and patient to see one another, and have a video conversation, with the former able to instruct the latter to undertake certain movements as well as observe their general condition. From this, colleagues at the Trust are able to offer medical advice and diagnosis, as well as also recommend if a follow-up visit to clinic is required.
Undertaking one of the organisation’s very first virtual clinics, Dr Anuja Natarajan, Paediatric Consultant, assessed and spoke with a number of patients this week.
Speaking about the new way of working Dr Natarajan said: “It was so nice to be able speak with my patients, and their parents using virtual technology this week. When undertaking this kind of care, it is crucial to be able to see the patient and their responses and using video technology enables this, and helps us to manage the patient’s problems more appropriately and, if necessary arrange a face-to-face consultation.
“Although we are in the initial stages, this new way of working is hugely exciting, offers such flexibility and will help us support patients during these extraordinary times. I believe this way of working will continue long into the future and, I believe, will become part of our everyday services as we overcome Covid-19.”
The Trust will continue to pilot this way of working but is already looking at how it can be rolled out to other areas as part of its Digital Transformation and Outstanding Outpatient initiatives.
Ethan Green has been under the care of Dr Natarajan for a little while. On Wednesday 6 May, Ethan took part in a virtual consultation, with mum, Sian. She had this to say of the experience: “It was so easy to do, a text came through half an hour before the appointment, and as soon as we signed-in to the session it was completely seamless and worked perfectly.
Ordinarily, I would have had to travel to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, which can take upwards of 40 minutes, look for a place to park and then also find the room in the hospital – which can be a task in itself! This kind of consultation was perfect for us and we would definitely do it again – it’s a great improvement for our local NHS trust.
Patients who are offered the video appointments will be given the relevant information ahead of time, and no additional software is required, just a smart phone.