A comprehensive benefits realisation plan was created and the current state baselined. The desired outcomes for patients were simple; improve the patient experience, with convenient, less stressful consultations arranged to suit patient’s requirements and needs.
The results have been outstanding. The uptake of telehealth appointments over traditional visits to the hospital has been greater than initially expected, with 100% of both stroke and drains patients, who were offered the choice, opting for a telehealth appointment in the future. The feedback from patients has been brilliant, so much so that when asked if they were happy to be discharged one patient said, “I don’t want to be discharged, I want to do this again!”
The organisational benefits have been equally as impressive. Telehealth has enabled process change which reduces did not attend rates significantly, providing efficiencies in more available appointments and more consulting time through the agile working nature of the technology.
While patients benefit by being cared for in their own location, the Trust benefits too. Less patients visiting hospitals directly results in less strain on facilities, including car parking. The enablement of agile working directly increases the number of locations that care may be delivered from and to, freeing up expensive estates space and enabling clinicians to work from many alternative locations.
Adopting telehealth in the drains outreach service has enabled drains outreach nurses to conduct video-based consultations rather than visiting patients in their own home. In some cases, this has enabled operational efficiency of up to four hours per nurse per day, and a significant reduction in travel expenses for both nurses and patients.
Assessing the patient over video, whilst they are in their home environment will highlight safe-guarding issues, which might otherwise be missed. However, if during the Telehealth consultation, the clinician considers a face to face appointment necessary, the patient will return to the hospital setting for their appointments.
Spending more time with patients will also build better patient relationships and better outcomes, particularly as we remove the stress of attending hospital for the appointment and could improve compliance with prescribed regimes with patients receiving more education from the clinician and be more invested in their own care, resulting in better management of long term health conditions.
It is safe to say the introduction of telehealth at the Trust has been an outstanding success. Trust staff have found the solution easy to use and patient adoption could not have been better. We are already in talks about how telehealth can deliver efficiencies in other divisions of the Trust and look forward to delivering this in the near future.