WE have launched our pilot project to explore the benefits of video consultations between care home residents in Salford and GPs.
Adapting the same technology that NASA uses to ensure the health of its astronauts in space, the trial will be spearheaded by on-call GPs from the Care Homes Medical Practice, based at Sandringham House.
They will provide face-to-face consultations via a secure video link to residents at four care homes, with Barton Brook the first to go live.
In real-time, the on-call GP team monitors residents on screen via a two-way encrypted video link and provides advice, assessment and support, including onward referral if necessary.
It is hoped the three-month trial will pave the way for patients to be assessed more quickly, and improve the efficiency of the on-call GP service to care homes.
Potentially, it will also have the added advantages of reducing A&E attendances, non-elective hospital admissions, and ambulance call-outs.
The clinical development of the service has been led jointly by Dr Zoe McKinstry, from the Care Homes Medical Practice, which is managed by our Trust; and Dr Tim Pattinson, one of our Consultant Community Geriatricians.
It was launched successfully following training sessions for both on-call GPs and care home staff, as well as a series of technical tests.
Dr McKinstry said: “It is important that we look at different ways of delivering care to patients that enables a quicker response, better provides for their needs, and is a more effective way of using our resources.
“Due to the geography of our area and challenges faced by increased levels of congestion, some patients currently need to wait for some time for a same-day GP assessment,
“Where it is safe to do so, we would like to try to make the process of getting that care delivered as quickly as possible through video consultations.”
She added: “This type of technology could not only help to reduce the time patients and staff have to wait before a GP can see a patient.
“In some cases it may even prevent attendances at the A&E Department that otherwise would have occurred during the time we would normally be travelling between each care home.”
Currently, whenever the condition of a resident necessitates an on-call GP, staff at the nursing or residential home place a request with the Sandringham House team to deliver further investigations.
A list of visits is then prepared for the on-call GP to follow, travelling from one care home to another.
If research from the initiative shows the new video consultations to be a success, the plans are for us to roll out the technology to care homes throughout Salford.
This trial is the latest innovation to go live as part of our programme of more than 50 world-class projects being brought to life by our Global Digital Exemplar and Future Digital teams.