Urgent care services – those providing non-emergency care outside normal working hours – still depend almost exclusively on phone-based communications.
Video communications offer great advantages for the triage and treatment of non-urgent conditions, the vast majority of which do not require hands-on intervention. Recognising this, virtualhealthcare.solutions and its partners Viewcare and Vocare (a leading provider of Urgent care services to NHS England) delivered a full-scale pilot “NHS111” triage service for the English region of Staffordshire.
Provided advice to callers on which urgent, emergency or primary care service to use;
Available to the general public, on-line;
Provided ability to register for the service via a dedicated website and download NHS 111 branded apps to the user’s chosen device;
Used existing 111 systems and governance processes, including recording all calls;
Provided callers with reassurance of being able to see advisor face-to-face (and vice versa)
Improved triage capability and disposition accuracy
Aimed to reduce the number of ambulance call-outs and emergency department visits
Video communications can help greatly in addressing situations where skilled clinicians are hard to come by.
In the rural northern part of Denmark, Viewcare provides its “Switchboard” application to the city ambulance service. Each ambulance is fitted with a wireless broadband aggregation device, also developed by Viewcare, which combines signals from four separate mobile networks to ensure the best possible mobile data bandwidth and availability. The data service is rebroadcast in the immediate vicinity of the ambulance using WiFi to which the paramedics’ devices connect, typically ruggedized tablet PCs.
The ambulance service uses qualified paramedics, but when a case requires greater experience than the team at the scene of an incident, highly-qualified specialists can be called for immediate assistance. If required, the patient’s injuries can be shown to the specialist using HD video and treatment provided under their direct supervision. In other areas of Denmark, first responders are provided with a similar service.
There are two benefits:
Emergency department attendances are reduced as more marginal cases can be dealt with without transportation;
Resourcing issues are reduced as there is less need for highly qualified paramedics; furthermore, qualified former paramedics can provide their expertise without the stresses of day-to-day involvement in the ambulance service, offering many the chance to return to employment.
At the other end of the spectrum, Viewcare provides a platform enabling creation of a virtual GP practice. For this application, Viewcare provides:
Patient registration capabilities;
Branded patient and doctor apps for iOS, MAC OS, Android and Windows devices;
Surgery video reception and call distribution;
Medical devices and software application for vital signs measurements and chronic disease management;
Integration with electronic patients’ records systems
By offering a virtual service, healthcare providers can:
Create a large scale practice not limited in size or geographical scope by physical surgery facilities;
Provide patients with efficient, on-demand access to GP services more suitable to their lifestyle preferences;
Effectively triage calls and direct to appropriate practice services;
Offer GPs and practice nurses highly flexible working practices, including part-time working from home;
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