Airedale NHS Foundation Trust’s telehealth hub has significantly reduced admissions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients and increased prisoner access to healthcare.

The hub was set up in September 2011 and connects more than 1000 patients to a 24/7 nurse-led service at Airedale Hospital.

The trust also offers telemedicine clinics to the area’s 14,000-strong prison population where TPP is used as the clinical system.

Airedale has recently deployed TPP’s patient administration system and is going live with a suite of SystmOne acute products.

SystmOne works with a single electronic record so telehealth staff can access a patient’s SystmOne GP record when necessary.

Rachel Binks, nurse consultant critical care, said the hub had recorded a 30% reduction in admissions of COPD patients since being introduced.

One patient had been admitted to hospital 11 times in the 15 months prior to having telehealth installed in December 2011, but had not been admitted since.

The hub links to 29 residential homes, allowing hospital staff to support care home staff to keep patients safe where they live, rather than take them to hospital.

If hub staff need to call an ambulance for a patient, they can relay their medical history to the emergency services.

“The whole thing works fantastically well together,” said Binks.

The hub also has links with some GPs where if they are thinking of sending a patient to A&E for an assessment, instead they call the hub and a consultant does the assessment remotely.

“The whole point is to stop people being admitted,” said Binks.

Eighty-five patients are connected to the hub through a device in their home with a green button that they can press if they need assistance. The video link then appears on their television.

Airedale also holds special telemedicine clinics, such as dermatology and respiratory, for prisoners.

Previously, if a prisoner wanted a specialist appointment they had to be accompanied by two guards and in some cases, if they were particularly dangerous, the whole A&E department had to be cleared before their arrival.

Now, specialists do a clinic session from an area of the hospital with a video link.

Airedale has done more than 1,000 consultations with prisoners, greatly expanding prisoners’ access to health services.

The service will become more accessible to the general population when the trust gets new infrastructure allowing clinicians to do telehealth sessions from their outpatient rooms.

The ultimate goal is for doctors to do a clinic seeing a mix of physical patients and patients via video link from their homes.

EHI news editor Rebecca Todd recently visited Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. Read a full report in Insight.