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.
Video consultation overview and demonstration
Hi, I’m Roisin Bevan. I’m on of the gastroenterologist’s here at North Tees and Hartlepool.
So this is a new system we are using called attend anywhere, which is a new online video system that we can use for outpatient appointments. We’ve set this up due to the coronavirus pandemic, so that we limit the number of people coming into hospital.
But it’s been something thinking of and planning to implement for a while, so that actually patients don’t need to attend the hospital physically. But they can still have their appointment face-to-face and with one of the consultants or clinicians that they need to see.
People log on and go into a virtual waiting area and then I can use any room to either a clinic room or my office for example. You can then log on and speak to the person face-to-face, so it saves travel time, it saves waiting around whilst the clinic is running and it means that as soon as they’re finished with their appointment they can get on with their normal life.
Demonstration with Outpatient pathways manager Michael Butler
Dr Bevan: Hi Michael, I’m Roisin Bevan, one of the gastroenterologists. Just wanted to have a chat with you to see how things have been going – how are you getting on?
Michael: I’ve been getting on really well. No problems since the last time we met.
Dr Bevan: So last time we saw you, we arranged to have some tests. So just so you know those have come back and they all look completely fine. So it sounds like the things we put in place last time in terms of treatment have worked quite well. Would that be fair to say?
Michael: Yes. I’ve had no issues or symptoms since the last time. So really reassuring that the results have come back to confirm that. Thank you.
Michael explains a bit more about the Attend Anywhere system
My name is Michael Butler. I’m the outpatient pathways manager at North Tees and Hartlepool and I’d like to talk about attend anywhere.
Attend Anywhere is the platform we are using to enable us to do video consultations.
Currently the ability to do video consultations by telephone or video, allows us to keep people at home, avoid them travelling to our hospitals. Which protects both our patients and staff.
Video gives an additional layer or reassurance for patients, over telephone appointments. Being able to see the clinican improves the interaction. It also allows clinicians to share images and talk to people about those images and their results. Which often aids patients understanding.
Our physiotherapy teams, gastroenterology, palliative care, psychology and counselling services and we expect children’s services and speech and language services and the MSK service to be involved in the coming weeks to add to the services using the system.
We hope that we can enable virtual consultations to become common place for those who opt for it in the future.
– The attend anywhere system allows consultants and patients to communicate without the patient having to come to hospital.
– The face-to-face consultation remains but the patient need not travel to the hospital.
– Patients log in through our website using their phone, tablet or computer.
– There’s less waiting and it’s more convenient for the patient.
– The consultant and patient should be able to see and hear each other very clearly.
– The system is totally secure and doesn’t record any element of the consultation.
– While put in place to limit patients coming in to hospital during the pandemic, it will be used long term.
– It will help protect both patients and staff.
– Images can be viewed on line and the consultant can observe the patient’s progress.
– We hope in the future to be able to offer virtual consultations to all who opt for it.
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 and 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. 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.