A new video consultation service, Attend Anywhere is being used to help North Wales patients attend appointments without leaving their homes.
After a rollout to GP surgeries across Wales, Attend Anywhere has been successfully trialled within several Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board BCUHB specialties including: Conwy and Denbighshire’s psychology and community mental health teams; Child and Adolescent Mental Health services, and Paediatric and Adult Learning Difficulty teams across Anglesey and Gwynedd; Flintshire’s Physiotherapy and Speech and Language services and Wrexham’s Pain Management and Pulmonary Rehabilitation teams.
Attend Anywhere is now being extended to around 70 other clinical services over the next two months with patients offered the option of a video appointment via tablets, smartphones or computers. Consultations cannot be recorded, and the secure platform has been thoroughly tested to meet NHS requirements.
Dr Markus Hesseling, Consultant Paediatrician and Chief Clinical Information Officer for BCUHB, said: “The hope is that Attend Anywhere will continue this trend of using technology to offer patients alternatives to the traditional clinic visits where appropriate and make it more convenient for them to see their doctor or nurse.’’
“It’s important to strike a balance between using this technology to work more efficiently and not losing out on benefits of a face-to-face meeting.”
Dr Dilesh Thaker, a Consultant Anaesthetist with the Pain Management Service based at Abergele Hospital, said: “We’ve seen five patients so far, and broadly the feedback has been positive.
“In pain management we have quite long, thorough sessions where each patient sees three healthcare professionals to get a rounded view of how we can manage their pain symptoms.’’
“We weren’t quite sure how that would work with a video consultation, but we’ve adapted our model to work with Attend Anywhere and the early signs are there are some new benefits from working in this way.” “By being on the same call, rather than seeing the patients in individual sessions, we’re able to share information and our appointments are shorter and more efficient now. We’re saving time on handovers between clinicians, we can share expertise in one session, and patients don’t have to repeat themselves to three different people in one visit.
“Another benefit is that you’re talking to patients in their own home. It’s a difficult quality to measure, but patients have generally seemed a bit more relaxed by having their relatives close by or their pets with them, which has contributed to us getting an understanding of how we can help them.’
“We also see patients who tend to have difficulties travelling, but the hope is that this may well help avoid patients who are unable to attend because their condition means travel is difficult.
“It’s never going to be the same as sitting in the room as someone, where you can pick up on non-verbal cues and communication, but it’s a significant improvement given the circumstances we’re in with COVID-19.
“In a typical session see patients for a few hours, we talk with them and then delve into quite personal things. That can be really tiring and hard for patients, so one thing we’re now looking at is separating out their consultation from a feedback session where we talk through their plan.’’
“By getting through that initial consultation and then coming back refreshed to talk about how we work together going forwards, which is much more possible thanks to having a remote consultation, hopefully we can improve the way people in our care manage long term pain.”