How Skype technology could transform patient care in Calderdale

How outpatient care could be changed in Calderdale
How outpatient care could be changed in Calderdale

Skype-type technology could be used to transform outpatient care to better meet patients' needs.

Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board heard Anna Basford, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust’s Director of Transformation and Partnerships, outline an approach to changing the outpatients system – and pledged it was not about cutting services.

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A healthcare survey had indicated patients would welcome a new approach which she said might amount to a “one stop” experience.

Through Healthwatch patients and clinicians had been asked to identify how best they would like to receive outpatient care, with patients replying that they did not want to have to make unnecessary visits to hospital.

Using telephone or Skype-type technology, patients could converse with relevant staff without having to attend hospital, she said.

“People might be going longer than necessary, with too many repeat appointments that aren’t of value,” she said. “It’s about better use of the services we do have.”

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For their part, staff had described ensuring they had all the test results they needed before seeing a patient as being important.

They also suggested new roles for staff such as nurses and physiotherapists to meet the needs of patients dealing with multiple and long-term conditions in their lives be developed.

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Board members agreed the system had to change and technology opened up new ways forward, with models of care delivered in this way available to study around the world.

Changes would be made in partnership by the board, trust and Clinical Commissioning Group via shared commissioning and the impact on services reviewed independently.

Board chairman Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) asked who would make the decisions over any transformation of care.

Anna Basford said: “In terms of formal decision-making the board that is in place is able to develop these proposals and we are looking to implement this.”

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said developing staff roles was a fantastic principle but challenging for the workforce.

Anna Basford said: “We accept there is a challenge with our workforce. We can deliver that care in a different way.”