Video conference initiatives are allowing clinicians to have direct contact with patients without having to travel between hospitals.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has set up video links between Clifton Hospital and Trinity Hospice to allow patients to access specialist care quickly.
Similar links have been set up between the haematology unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Royal Preston Hospital to help doctors connect with patients without the need for travel.
In the Haematology Unit at Blackpool, consultant Dr Mark Grey has been able to provide digital clinics for his patients who cannot easily get to Victoria Hospital.
Veronica Southern, clinical lead for digital health at Blackpool, said: “This means patients can get specialist assistance quickly without the specialist having to leave Trinity Hospice and go onto the ward, wasting valuable clinical time travelling.
“Using technology devised by the digital team, Dr Grey has been able to have one unit at Blackpool and another at Preston allowing him to be remotely connected to patients saving time and enabling easier consultations for everyone.
The Trust has also used an NHS England funding grant to set up it’s Care Home Connect project, which uses a similar approach to allow clinicians to access care and nursing home patients without them having to come into hospital.
“We have connected up 100 care homes across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and specialists such as district nurses, speech and language therapists and palliative professionals are now able to assess, manage and review patients remotely,” Veronica added.
“This saves time for the professionals not having to drive from one home to another and allows the patient to be seen quicker and in more convenient surroundings.”
NHS England has pledged that digitally enabled care will go ‘mainstream’ across the health service in the next decade.
The NHS Long Term Plan, published this week, includes a chapter solely on digital technology which details aims for the coming years.
It states that, in 10 years’ time, the “NHS [in England] will offer a ‘digital first’ option for most, allowing for longer and richer face-to-face consultations with clinicians where patients want or need it”.
It’s not the first time the Trust have used technology to improve their services.
In 2014 it implemented it’s Teleswallowing scheme, which allows clinicians to asses a patient’s ability to swallow without a face-to-face assessment.
This means they’ve got more time to fulfil other tasks and patients don’t need to make unnecessary trips to hospital.
Teleswallowing was recently praised by Lord Carter of Coles, non-executive director of NHS Improvement, in his Carter Report into Community Health Services.