Patients can now take part in medical appointments from their own home, thanks to a new development in virtual consultations.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has implemented a new, online service which will result in many patients no longer needing to travel to the hospital for appointments.
The Attend Anywhere software is a secure video consultation platform that allows the patient to see and speak to the clinician from their own smart phone, tablet or lap top.
Patients who opt for a video appointment are given an appointment time, but instead of coming to hospital, they instead log-in to a virtual waiting area via the Trust’s website.
The consultation begins onscreen, where the clinician and patient can see and speak to each other. They can also review x-rays or reports on screen.
Patient confidentially is a priority and the video conversation is not recorded at any point.
Gastroenterology Consultant Roisin Bevan, said: “We just log on and speak to our patients face-to-face, via the computer.
“It saves the patient travel time and waiting in the reception area and once we’ve finished, they can get on with their day.
“We’re using this for follow up appointments and for managing longer term conditions rather than for diagnosis when we have to be in the same room with the patients and carry out tests.
“It’s early days of using it. So far it’s working well and the patients seem to like it.”
Michael Butler, Outpatients & Pathways Manager, said: “We’ve been developing the Attend Anywhere system to suit our needs for some time, but we have fast-tracked it in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a big improvement over telephone consultations, as being able to see the consultant provides much more assurance and often aids patient understanding of their treatment.
“We want virtual consultations to continue for as many patients as possible so they can have the convenience of appointments from home or work, without the need to travel to hospital or miss time from their job.
“We’re acutely aware of the environmental impact of the traffic coming to and from hospital, so this will also help reduce our carbon footprint.
“We’ve had some really positive feedback from patients and we hope to offer virtual consultations to all patients who opt for it in the future.”
The Attend Anywhere video appointments are currently available for physiotherapy, gastroenterology, palliative care, psychology and counselling. Further expansion is planned, with the capability to video consult across all clinically appropriate services to begin as soon as possible.