Skype service expands in south Devon

E-health Insider has an article about NHS South Devon’s usage of Skype inside Patients Know Best. Fiona Barr, the journalist, kindly interviewed me after NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said he wanted to give doctors’ incentives to carry out online consultations.

NHS South Devon had been using Skype for online consultations for a while. Like so many of our customers, they are early adopters of using new technology to improve patient care. When they signed up we integrated Skype video calls so that it would fit into clinical workflow. The lack of integration is what drove so many early criticisms of Sir Bruce’s recommendation of Skype, but with the integration clinicians can comply with their legal requirements for record storage while patients get high quality care without needing to travel.

NHS South Devon patients can register to use PKB with their clinical teams through our customers page:

Skype service expands in south Devon

6 September 2011   Fiona Barr

Clinicians in south Devon are using Skype to hold consultations with patients from their own homes using patient-controlled record system supplier Patients Know Best.

Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, founder of Patients Know Best, told EHI Primary Care that the project had been running for a couple of months in response to demand from clinicians working for South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

He added: “It started with speech and language therapy and now lots of other specialists are asking for it and clinicians are using it for pre-operative assessment and also for follow-up appointments.”

Use of the Skype software application for doctor-patient consultations was the subject of debate recently, after NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said he wanted to give doctors’ incentives to carry out online consultations.

Dr Al-Ubaydli said clinicians in south Devon fix a time with the patient for a consultation using Skype and the call is initiated by the clinician.

After the consultation has ended, both the clinician and the patient document what happened using the Patients Know Best online record.

Clinicians can print the entry for their own records. Patients Know Best is working on integration with hospital electronic record systems, where they are in use.

Dr Al-Ubaydli added: “You need to put some thought into how it can be integrated into clinicians’ workflow but if you get it right it can be very powerful for clinical teams.”

In a video blog entry on the Patients Knows Best website, Gary Hotine, health informatics services director for South Devon Health Informatics Service, said it had approached Patients Know Best about using “the industry de facto standard of Skype” after demand from clinicians for video conferencing.

He added: “We had tried a few video conferencing environments previously and they’d all failed for the same reasons.

“These were that – for the patients who have to install the software and get it working on their own computers – it wasn’t quite good or easy enough and we encountered a number of technical problems.”

Hotine said Patients Know Best was also developing integration which would allow the trust to monitor how often clinicians were using the functionality.

He added: “If this is as successful as I think it will be, we’ll need to charge our commissioners for that and evidence how much of that we are doing.”

Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli will be speaking at the EHI Live 2011 conference and exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham from 7-8 November. Registration for the show is open now.

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