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Health

Dramatic increase in video consultations for patients in north Cumbria

stethoscopeMore patients in north Cumbria are benefiting from receiving services through video consultations after more than 45 services have introduced technology since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The adoption of the video platform ‘Attend Anywhere’ for patient consultations is now being used for many more hospital outpatient services, GP practice visits and community service appointments with use increasing from 14 services using video technology in early March 2020 to more than 60 services to date and over 600 clinicians now using this technology safely for patient consultations.

Organisations including North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC), Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC), GP Practices and integrated primary care organisations as well as social care and charitable organisations have adapted to new ways of working in order to reduce risks of infection for patients and staff while still delivering services that can be done remotely including ongoing needs for rehabilitation and therapy.

The new video consultation technology was originally championed by the  community-led co-production Working Together Group as it helps patients with greater choice and flexibility and reduces the need to travel.

Pilot schemes with general practice – and some outpatient hospital services over the last 18 months – meant clinicians were able to adapt the challenges of Covid-19 quickly and adopt the technology quickly.

One example of a service using video consultations is the treatment and assessment of Cumbria’s stroke patients via the early supported discharge team.

Jo Howard – North Cumbria ESSD Co-ordinator said: “Our Early Stroke Discharge Service has remained operational during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to promote early and safe discharge for our stroke population.   We identified that video consultation could be used in various ways to help us to assess and triage referrals as well as plan discharges and maintain close links with the Multi-Disciplinary Meetings on the Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit and with the Rehabilitation Wards.”

Patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with high levels of satisfaction observed for the management of the consultation both clinical and administrative, for the technology itself such as its ease of use, the quality and stability of the system and for the benefits realised by the patients in the total miles and time saved in not having to travel to an appointment venue.

Farouq Din Associate Director of Digital Healthcare has described how the pandemic has effectively moved forward the use of technology in the health service overnight.

“I cannot think of any comparative situation in the history of the NHS. This is such a complex innovation, changing the way we relate to patients and the workflows of the NHS. This is not just about video and telephone consultations, but a move towards a total triage system. This is a radical and complex innovation, where the relative advantages are huge.”

Further hospital outpatient services will commence using Attend Anywhere video technology wherever this is relevant and safe to do so over the next critical weeks and months.

For more information and videos to explain the technology visit https://www.ncic.nhs.uk/news/video-consultations-offer-more-choice-and-flexibility-patients-cumbria

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