Beaumont Hospital

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Expanding Tele-Health in Beaumont Hospital in a COVID world

Tuesday May 19, 2020

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Telemedicine has become the buzz word in healthcare as another measure in the fight against COVID-19 and Beaumont Hospital has been at the forefront in its response to changing the way we see patients in the hospital setting while keeping providers and patients safe.

One such response is the ramping up of virtual/remote clinics to replace the traditional out-patient appointment we are used to seeing. In addition to the pressure on hospitals that the pandemic has caused, run of the mill health problems still have to be dealt with and the show must go on as far as is possible.

In Beaumont virtual or remote clinics for many of the health and social care related disciplines (Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics and Social Work Services, Psychology etc), have replaced face to face appointments where that is possible. We are currently extending this to our out-patient clinical specialties, although over recent weeks our medical staff have been phoning patients as an alternative to actually seeing them in the clinic setting. Great care has been taken to select the right cohort of patients for whom remote delivery of consultations or therapy based treatments is suitable. Over 240 such therapy sessions taken place in Beaumont in the past two weeks.

Jenny Ashton, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist explains “While remote delivery of treatment through video calls isn’t suitable for everyone, it has worked very well for a number of musculoskeletal problems. I can examine the patient, evaluate movement and strength and prescribe exercises and other self -directed treatment options. As well as reducing the risks of being exposed to a hospital environment, the patient does not have the inconvenience of having to leave their home, perhaps travel long distances, or rely on someone to drive them in, nor do they have long waiting times for their appointment. It may also be less tiring on patients who have been incapacitated in some way with their injury. While it won’t replace every trip to the hospital, it is a great alternative for some in the current environment”.

Beaumont is about to extend virtual clinics to clinicians to see patients online. As a result, many appointments that would otherwise be cancelled will now go ahead, ensuring that patients are still able to access the care they need. Our interim solution had involved a phone call to the patient following a chart review, which resulted in 6087 patients ‘attending’ through a phone consult since mid-March. By extending our well established digital dictation system to incorporate virtual clinics we can enable end to end patient engagement, with access to previous out-patient letters, engaging in face-to-face virtual consultations and completing a clinic letter which is automatically sent to the patients GP, all within the one system. By using virtual clinics many patients who require minimal examination and where histology or radiology reports require discussion with the patient can now be followed up without the need to attend in person.

“We have had to quickly respond to the problem of cancelled out-patient appointments through expanding the use of telemedicine to contain the spread of infection while offering remote services to patients” explains Mark Graham, Director of ICT. “This has been a turning point for virtual health and we’re actually seeing how it can be used successfully in a public health crisis. We can keep the worried well calm and out of the hospital setting while steering those most at risk through our normal channels. Its about giving patients a choice”.

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