Cisco has released results from a survey of patients taking part in a Scottish telemedicine trial, showing that almost 100% were satisfied with the technology used to remotely assess minor medical conditions.
In January 2008, the Scottish Centre for Telehealth joined forces with NHS Scotland and Cisco to run a trial in the emergency department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary using Cisco’s TelePresence and HealthPresence solutions.
The five month trial provided patients who required medical services for non-life threatening illnesses such as burns, fractures, infections and pains with real-time, face-to-face interactions with medical staff over a network using the Cisco technologies.
HealthPresence allowed doctors to evaluate patients’ symptoms, based on physiological data taken from devices such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and thermometers.
The results released last week relate to five medical staff who assessed and diagnosed 105 patients aged 18- 79. The study showed 99% of the patients were satisfied with the experience, 95% felt the visit was confidential and 91% said they would completely comfortable with the equipment they had to use.
Dr James Ferguson, clinical director, Scottish Centre for Telehealth, said: “I hadn’t expected patients to like it as much as they did, especially the older ones who are less familiar with technology.
“I was really gratified by the enthusiasm they showed, and many volunteered ideas about how HealthPresence could improve medical care in their community.”
However, the pilot also showed that telemedicine was seen as a way to augment rather than replace existing healthcare.
The findings state: “Some interviewees thought that HealthPresence could be used as a screening facility to triage all medical problems in remote and rural areas and doctors, in particular, thought that this use would aid the patient being seen by the most appropriate clinician or health professional more quickly.”
It also showed that doctors were concerned about the “the inability to perform hands-on examinations by video conference”, in particular testing for swelling and tenderness.
Despite this, the hospital has reported it is extremely pleased with the results from the initial pilot and intends to conduct further trials with HealthPresence, details on which will be announced shortly.
Kaveh Safavi, vice president, Global Healthcare Practice, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, said: “It’s clear that there is a global demand for better access to health care resources that can provide patients with the best possible care. Simply making more doctors available is often not possible.
“Cisco HealthPresence is an example of our innovative approach to developing technologies that improve the quality of the health care experience, simplify health care communications, and connect patients with medical providers in a convenient and efficient manner.”