The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a varied response from people and organisations the world over particularly in regards to over-stretched healthcare systems and limited capacity. This worldwide emergency has also encouraged a heroic response from healthcare IT vendors including digital patient communications supplier Healthcare Communications, who have announced that they will be offering their eClinic software to health and care teams worldwide, for free, for a whole year.
The e-clinics allow for patients to see their clinicians via online consultations, from the comfort and safety of their own homes, meaning that regular health checks and medical reporting can continue even if patients or healthcare professionals are self-isolating.
Kenny Bloxham, Managing Director at Healthcare Communications has highlighted the need to support the NHS through this crisis and switch as many appointments to virtual today to ensure services are not overwhelmed in the future.”The solution is clinician led, so patients don’t spend lengthy periods in ‘virtual’ waiting rooms and clinicians can immediately connect with their patient. It can be rolled out at scale across hospitals and GPs within days and is a sustainable way to redesign the patient pathway for the future.”
eClinic also allows clinicians to collaborate and exchange medical opinion, through clinician-to-clinician support and consultation features, meaning communications between colleagues can be maintained and kept private, despite the professional distances created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The eClinic video consultation platform enables clinicians to convert entire clinic lists to virtual appointments. Healthcare workers can also use the platform to immediately assess urgent patients who cannot attend in person.
An organisation that has recognised this potential is Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust who have implemented the software in response to their COVID-19 offer and now have 40 clinicians set up to use the system.
Dr Muhammad Javed, Consultant Paediatrician and CCIO at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has found the e-clinics system to be revolutionary in outpatient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says: “We have always felt that a significant number of our patients do not actually need to come to the clinic. During the current pandemic, having a service like e-clinics has become a necessity.
“The clinicians are able to tailor the consultation to patient’s needs which has resulted in improved clinician satisfaction and hopefully will result in improved patient satisfaction as well.
“The clinicians feel that the ability to provide clear instructions to the patient by in-consultation text chat and transferring information leaflets using the file transfer facility has made this mode of consultation safer. The ability to share the screen to show the patients their x-rays etc has also proved to be invaluable.”
Where eClinic differs to other video providers, is that the entire PAS clinic list is automatically replicated on the platform with patient demographics and contact details. All the clinician needs to do is click a button to be virtually face to face with the next patient.
Dr James Halpern, Consultant Dermatologist has talked about the potential life saving role that the software has played: “ As a Dermatology service we need to see urgent patients with suspected skin cancers yet at the same time many of these patients are elderly and they need to self-isolate to protect themselves from infection. On the first day of using this software we were able to triage 23 urgent cancer patients in their own homes and identify nine, including two nursing home residents who we were able to reassure. Those nine elderly, high risk patients are now able to avoid the risks of catching coronavirus by visiting the hospital.”
Not only is this kind of IT implementation crucial during the coronavirus outbreak, but digitally transforming patient care will improve efficiency and relieve non-pandemic level strains that are already existent within healthcare systems globally.
Richard Pearson, Head of Digital Data at Walsall has found the implementation process quick and easy with full support at every turn: “Healthcare Communications have been a fantastic partner in helping the trust deliver a virtual consultation system in less than a week from initial contact.”
It has been commented upon repeatedly, that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the shortcomings of the world’s healthcare systems, to deal with such an emergency, and indeed emergencies that result from non-pandemic circumstances. By implementing software like Healthcare Communications’ eClinic, hospitals can forge a more efficient and effective healthcare system, which is digitally viable and ultimately more safe for its patients.