1953 was a historic year: Elizabeth was crowned Queen; Hillary and Tenzing were first to climb mount Everest; Stalin died; and Watson and Crick published a short paper explaining the structure of DNA. Unlike the first three events, few members of the press attended Watson and Crick’s press conference, and the paper received by far the least publicity. For a few months, few paid attention, and fewer still understood the seminal importance of the paper. This is how the genomics revolution started: quietly.
60 years on, I have a similar feeling about October 4th 2013, when Leicester Medical School became the first in the UK to teach online consultations. (I believe they are the first in the world to do this, but they are academics, so they humbly limit the scope of their statements.) All its first year medical students are trained how to hold consultations online with virtual patients.
The biggest barrier to doctors conducting online consultations is that no one taught them how to do so. Although many doctors asked in public about online consultations, voicing concerns about patient safety and demands on time, the real reason is that no one taught them how to consult online safely and efficiently. As I wrote in The Guardian, we know that online consultations work. And as Action for ME showed in its public consultation with members, we know that patients want online consultations. So what remains is to teach tomorrow’s doctors.
Which makes Leicester’s course a historic one, and why we are proud to make Patients Know Best available to help train their students. As part of our work together, we will create a curriculum and make it available to other medical schools through an open access licence. If you would like to use PKB to teach your students how to consult online, contact us.
Action for ME is starting a pilot for PKB with patients with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). They began the work with a consultation of their members, a great example of why it is so great to have charities lead on our work with clinicians. Genetic Alliance UK had recommended using PKB to its member charities a few years ago. A disease charity teaches the clinicians at centres of excellent exactly why it is so important for their patients to be in control of their records, raising quality, reducing costs and increasing happiness.
Here is an extract from the Action for ME’s explanation:
We are developing a pilot project with adult specialist services in Newcastle, Liverpool and Bristol to test and develop an innovative web-based care record system that will be completely patient-centred in a way that doesn’t currently exist.
This project‘s guiding principle is that patients have control, they are listened to and are seen as an active partner in their own care. Patients are in charge of their own records which is very different from the normal relationship that most people, including those with M.E., experience despite the developments with patient-centred care. The software we will use is called Patients Know Best and has been tried and tested with a range of health and social care providers, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, but has not been used with people with M.E.
It is well worth reading the full post.
This article appeared in The Guardian on 17 September 2013.
Patients need to be able to consult their doctor online. Having to take half a day off work for a 10-minute consultation is a high price to pay when the technology exists that would allow it to be done online from the patient’s home or work. For some patients, the travel involved in getting to an appointment is harmful in itself. I have seen patients with physical disabilities in pain from the long distances they have had to travel to see their specialist. In a few cases, the appointment itself has risks – cystic fibrosis patients can give each other infections when sat together in the same waiting room.
In my opinion, it’s important to offer online consultations when they are appropriate. But for the best of reasons, many in the NHS remain deeply sceptical about consulting online. Time-pressed doctors and GPs are not sure what an online consultation actually is. They fear it might take up even more of their time.
The following is an interview with Dr. Deborah Peel, a physician, national speaker on the issue of health privacy and the founder of Patient Privacy Rights.
Mohammad: I’ve got a ton of questions about your work, so, Deborah, can you tell us about your background?
Deborah: I’m a physician. I graduated from medical school in 1974, and I went into private practice in general adult psychiatry in 1977. I’ve been in practice a very long time in the most privacy-sensitive specialty in Medicine. Along the way, I became a Freudian analyst and learned even more about the importance of keeping healthy boundaries and protecting privacy. If you think about it, the kind of work that I’ve been doing is very collaborative. In fact, psychiatrists and mental health professionals may be among the most collaborative health professionals, bar none, because for the most part our work involves building relationships–trusted relationships–and helping people in ways that fit with who they are and what they understand.
We’re excited to welcome The Tunbridge Wells Hospital to PKB, who will be using PKB with paediatric oncology patients, to help them and their families navigate their care.
We are happy to welcome the first of many GP practices in Kent to join PKB to work with the community teams and social care to improve communication and management for their patients with long-term conditions. These include: Manor Road Doctor’s Surgery, St Richard’s Road and Golf Road Surgeries and Sheppey Community Hospital.
We are pleased to welcome Torbay Hospital to Patients Know Best!
Torbay Hospital’s Paediatric Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes teams will be using PKB to integrate patient medical records across primary and secondary care. This will aid the transition process to adult services. In addition, the clinical teams will be using iPads to assist in easy data transfer.