Published on 14 April 2020
Staff at East Kent Hospitals have held more virtual consultations than any other Trust in the south east of England, according to the latest figures.
Thousands of patients have been able to speak to medical teams thanks to specialist medical video consultation software made available during the coronavirus outbreak.
It sends out text messages to invite people to video consultations, and almost 3,700 have taken place since mid March – the highest number for any acute hospital trust in the south east region, which stretches from Hampshire to Oxfordshire.
Andy Barker, director of ICT at East Kent Hospitals, said staff and patients had embraced the new way of working.
He said: “Healthcare needs do not stop just because there is a pandemic, so it was vital that we quickly put in place a system that would allow our fantastic medical staff to continue providing the best care for our patients.
“Video consultations are not suitable in every situation, for example if a patient needs a physical examination, but for many people they are the best and safest option, and allow the medical team to discuss follow-on care or treatment plans without the risk of the patient attending hospital."
Use of the system has increased since March, with more than a thousand virtual consultations now taking place every week.
The child health team, and therapies – including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy – have held the most video consultations so far.
Sally Hall, clinical director for clinical support services, including therapies, said the software was crucial in allowing staff to continue treating patients.
She said: “Our staff are dedicated to looking after our patients, helping them recover or improving their mobility, and thanks to this software we can continue doing this at the moment when we are unable to see patients face to face.
“I’m delighted with how well our teams have adapted to a new way of working during the coronavirus.”