Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has implemented PatientShare, a web-based forum, to improve patient access to clinicians and give them a platform to share their experiences.

The trust is using the website to provide consistent and up-to-date written and video-based information on bariatric surgery, allowing patients to email directly any individual featuring in the videos.

Dr Andrew Hartland, medical lead for the bariatric services unit, told eHealth Insider the trust wanted to provide patients with “clear, accessible and consistent information.”

“The problem we had was that we get a lot of tertiary referrals covering a very wide area. We then have multiple teams, who often provide the same information.

“We can now deliver consistent information, while replicating the clinical environment through lots of 40-second video clips.”

The website contains 24 videos, ranging from specific medical advice delivered by clinicians to past patients describing their experiences before, during or after surgery.

Patients obtain access to the site via a log-in provided by the trust, after which they can email clinicians with specific questions regarding their treatment, with a bespoke reply devised within one week.

Users can also participate in an open forum on the site, engaging with patients who have already experienced bariatric surgery.

The trust is responsible for the editorial management of content published on the site, although it tries to keep editing to a minimum.

“We wanted to create a site where patients communicate with one another,” Dr Hartland said.

“If they want advice on what it will be like the first time they go to a restaurant after surgery, the best person to ask is a patient; not necessarily one of us who hasn’t been through it,” he said.

Patient feedback on the site has been “tremendous” according to Dr Hartland. Nick Mayhew, director of PatientShare, said: “The benefits of supported self-management are driving the demand for PatientShare across a number of medium and long term conditions.

“With all the obvious benefits of electronic communication potentially negating the need for an outpatient or GP appointment, a very significant cost saving could be made.”

Walsall is the first trust to employ PatientShare and plans are in place to make the bariatric site accessible to the wider public.