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IN-DEPTH: REMOTE APPOINTMENTS


Dr Melissa Wickremasinghe conducts a test video appointment with Ali Ahmed, information communications and technology project lead at the Trust


Andrew and his team have been piloting a ‘virtual clinic’, which is set to go fully live in April 2019. “GPs refer their patients to our service as normal, but the referral comes through to a new portal where our clinicians can access the patient’s entire primary care record. Our team will review the patient’s referral with all the information in front of them.  advice directly to the GP instead of seeing the patient in clinic, they will produce a consultation within the patient’s record itself for the GP to access. “It means we can avoid bringing patients to clinic unnecessarily and we can dedicate more time to patients with more complex needs who do need a face-to-face appointment.”


REMOTE FOLLOW-UP FOR UROLOGY  over the phone to patients with a range of urological conditions, so that they don’t need to travel to our clinic,” says Dr Saiful Miah, clinical lecturer in urology at Charing Cross Hospital.


Dr Saiful Miah Spring/Summer 2019 2019 2019


Patient satisfaction is high – a study of the phone appointment service between July and October 2017 found that over 90 per cent of the 409 patients who received follow-up appointments by phone were happy with the approach.  evaluated the environmental impact of reducing that number of patients travelling in to Charing Cross,” says Saiful. “We’ve saved 4,200 driving miles – that’s the equivalent of four metric tonnes of CO2


that isn’t polluting London’s air.”


USING SKYPE FOR NEURO- ONCOLOGY FOLLOW UP


In neuro-oncology, consultant Dr Matt Williams has been undertaking some appointments with his patients via videoconferencing software. “I initially discussed the idea with our patient and user group. I started  Skype just under a year ago. We run the appointments from a clinic room, like a normal clinic.”  the option for patients who require follow-up appointments, though occasionally he’s used Skype for


patients who have asked for a second opinion who live far from the hospital. “Surprisingly it’s not younger patients who have taken up the opportunity the most – it’s actually been older, less well patients for whom travelling is more of a burden.”


LOOKING AHEAD


As we continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of our patients, expanding our appointment options will be key to ensuring a positive patient experience. As clinicians cited here have found, many patients prefer to avoid a visit to hospital where possible and would welcome more opportunities for remote appointments.


The Trust’s executive team has agreed that by March 2021 at least 25 per cent of outpatient follow-up appointments should be virtual (i.e. video-consults, phone consults, virtual review of notes or results, CIE follow-up, other digital follow-up), where it is clinically appropriate to do so.


TO GET INVOLVED


Contact Frances Sanderson (frances.sanderson@nhs.net), clinical director for central outpatients, or Zephan Trent (z.trent@nhs.net), interim deputy director of transformation.


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