Fracture patients at Stepping Hill Hospital are now getting swifter and more efficient care thanks to its successful ‘virtual fracture clinic.’
The clinic, which has been running over a year, uses the latest in scanning and communications technology so that orthopaedic consultants can examine fractures on screen, without the patient having to attend.
X-rays and notes from A&E attendances are examined and reviewed virtually by an orthopaedic consultant within 24 hours. Where appropriate, patients are then contacted by telephone and provided with further written advice and guidance on how to manage their fracture, without the need for a follow-up appointment.
Before the virtual clinic was established, all patients who had suspected fractures after attending A&E would also have to attend a further appointment. The new service from the orthopaedic team meant that for the first time patients could receive the help and advice they need without unnecessary follow-up visits to the hospital. And with less pressure on regular fracture clinics, those patients with more serious fractures are able to have their appointments sooner.
Since the virtual clinic started, it has reviewed over 2,300 patients. There has been a 16% reduction in patients having to attend fracture clinic appointments, and less than 7% of those discharged from the virtual clinic needed to return to for a further appointment. For patients who do need to attend a clinic appointment, the time from A&E attendance to fracture clinic attendance has reduced by over 32%, and patients are now offered appointments within approximately 2-4 days instead of 4-7 days.
Orthopaedic consultant Barnes Morgan said
“The virtual fracture clinic has been a real success story for patients at Stepping Hill Hospital. No-one wants to spend time visiting a hospital appointment when they don’t need to, and the new system has saved a lot of patients a lot of inconvenience. At the same time, patients with more serious fractures are getting faster care in a less crowded environment, and the orthopaedic team can use its resources where they are most needed. With a consultant reviewing the cases we can ensure that patients get the right level of specialist care that they need.”