A video appointments service for NHS patients in Stockport is being expanded following a successful pilot scheme.
The Stockport NHS Foundation Trust Video Appointments Service was first introduced for community heart failure patients in mid April, and following positive feedback has now been used for patients in other areas at both Stepping Hill Hospital and the community. Patients using the service now include the areas of community diabetes, nutrition and dietetics, paediatrics, COPD, health visiting, occupational health, orthopaedic assessments and more.
The video consultations allow medical, nursing and other clinical staff to make face-to-face consultations via video-link. While the system works on a similar principle to videoconferencing software, it has enhanced data security and additional features such as a virtual waiting rooms.
Third parties can join the call both from the patient and the clinical side, for instance if the patients wishes to be joined by family members, or if they need examinations and advice from more than one clinician at the same time.
Feedback from the new services using the consultations continues to be highly positive. The paediatric service reported one particular positive experience from a mother and her young son who has ADHD and ASD. This young patient hated coming to clinics and usually did not want to engage. By contrast, he really enjoyed his video consultation. His mum had her phone in the garden and he took great pride showing the nursing staff via the video link of how during lockdown he had learnt to ride his bike. This made for a much more relaxed and comfortable consultation for this patient and others like him.
The system was introduced sooner at the trust due to the Covid-19 emergency and the resulting need to greatly reduce face-to-face consultations, but its advantages for patients are long term. Not attending in person greatly reduces the risk of infection for both patients and clinicians which is so vital during the current public health emergency, but it is also simply more convenient and less time-consuming all round.
In some cases consultations in person will still be vital, such as with wound or ulcer care, or if a patient doesn’t have access to a tablet, smartphone or PC, but in many cases they will not. Video appointments also expected to reduce ‘Did not Attends (DNAs) for patients who are unable to travel due to being unwell or for other reasons.
Louise Robson, Chief Executive for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said
The Video Appointment Service have been absolutely vital for ongoing patient care during the Covid19 health emergency, and continues to be an important part of containing the spread of the virus. But the long term advantages of video consultations go beyond this. This makes the whole experience of consultations greatly more convenient for so many patients, while many are reporting they prefer the experience on the whole. Face-to-face consultations where needed will still have their place, but we’re looking at a long term change which will have great benefits in both for both patients and the health service as a whole in terms of using its resources well.”
Image: Dr Alison Jobling, children’s consultant preparing to give a consultation via video.