London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust has deployed a virtual visit solution to help facilitate video calls between patients and their loved ones.       

The NHS Book a Virtual Visit app is currently in beta testing across 66 wards on both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 wards.

It was designed and delivered in response to a social media post from joint CIO, Sonia Patel, requesting help from small technology companies to build an app in 24-48 hours.

Working in collaboration with Sonia and her team, Made Tech created the simple to use digital service that allows ward staff to easily and quickly schedule calls between a patient and the loved one, with minimal data needed to support the call.

Hosted in the cloud and created within the principles of open source, the solution does not require users to install any third-party applications, can be accessed via any website browser, and works across all devices.

Ward staff input the family or friends details into the service which automatically sends an SMS to them, stating when their virtual visit is booked for. They will then receive a unique link to join the call when the ward is ready.

If the call has to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, the scheduling system can easily re-book visits and send notifications. Ward staff can also book recurring calls, allowing them to spend more time caring for patients and less time administering virtual visits.

Sonia Patel, joint CIO of London North West Healthcare NHS Trust and The Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “Connecting loved ones with virtual visits at this time is incredibly important.

“I want our patients to have access to the support they need, and for our ward staff to have a solution that is intuitive to use and allows them to spend more time caring for their patients, in extremely challenging circumstances.”

The non-Covid-19 wards include a neonatal ward where the decision has been made that Covid-19 positive parents should be separated from their babies due to infection risk. While a virtual visit cannot replace parent-baby bonding through physical contact, it does provide the opportunity for parents to see their babies.

Luke Morton, CTO at Made Tech said: “We hope to begin scaling out the solution to more trusts as soon as possible. We hope that this service can continue to provide value in the future too with personal device restrictions on wards.”

The trust is also due to roll out a clinical electronic document management solution from IMMJ Systems which will help support virtual clinics.

This will involve digitising paper-based clinical records, making them digitally available to all healthcare providers via IMMJ Systems’ MediViewer solution.