Alder Hey launches videoconferencing scheme

Technology improves access to specialist care

The North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (NWC AHSN) is supporting a major project to help children with long-term illnesses access expert advice and support from consultants at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital through remote video monitoring.

The project is being implemented at three sites covered by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and will allow paediatric consultants to use video technology to monitor and assess children living with chronic neurological conditions at locations as far afield as Bangor and the Isle of Man. There is also potential for the scheme to be rolled out across other practice areas including cardiology, endocrinology and psychiatry over the next two years.

It’s crucial that the NHS taps into and harnesses innovative new technology to deliver the best results possible for both staff and users and we’re delighted to be working with the fantastic team at Alder Hey to help make this vision a reality

The £50,000 programme is being funded and supported by the NWC AHSN. It will enable consultants at the specialist hospital to review and assess children with chronic conditions remotely through video link, saving valuable time and resources and making it easier for patients to access expert consultation.

This scheme removes the need for families and children to make tiring journeys to see their specialists and allows consultants to work in partnership with local GPs in the regions to easily schedule appointments and consultations with their young patients. In addition to the benefits created for families, the programme will also enable specialist consultants to maximise the use of their time and deal with their case loads rather than spending significant amounts of time travelling to distant outreach clinics.

The programme is due to be rolled out at sites including Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust, Warrington and Halton Hospitals and the Isle of Man over the next nine months.

Consultant paediatric neurologist, Dr Ram Kumar, who is spearheading the programme at Alder Hey, said: “At present, families and sick children are having to travel significant distances to attend consultations with Alder Hey’s specialist paediatric neurologists, or the consultants are required to travel to outreach clinics located in locations as far afield as the Isle of Man to review and assess children with chronic neurological conditions. This can mean either the family or the consultant is facing a round trip of more than 10 hours, often to have a 20-minute face-to-face consultation.

“This scheme will allow families and their local paediatricians to easily access the expert support and advice of their specialist neurological specialist, without having to make long and tiring journeys. The new technology will also allow our specialist consultants to focus their resources and expertise on their case loads, where it is most needed, and spend less time on the road travelling to what are often very short consultations which can easily be done remotely. The new scheme has the potential to be of use to varied practice areas.”

We are excited about the possibilities which this technology enables and are confident that this scheme will enable the trust to exploit technological advances to ensure that families are receiving the best possible care, advice and monitoring, no matter where they are based

Dr Liz Mear, NWC AHSN chief executive, said: “Ensuring that families continue to receive outstanding quality of care and that local paediatricians and young patients continue to have a close connection with their consultants is of the utmost importance. We are excited about the possibilities which this technology enables and are confident that this scheme will enable the trust to exploit technological advances to ensure that families are receiving the best possible care, advice and monitoring, no matter where they are based.

“It’s crucial that the NHS taps into and harnesses innovative new technology to deliver the best results possible for both staff and users and we’re delighted to be working with the fantastic team at Alder Hey to help make this vision a reality.”

Many patients with neurological illnesses have chronic disabling conditions that require long-term follow-up care and the majority of children can be managed in secondary care, where a locally-based paediatrician works in partnership with a neurological specialist to deliver a specialist care package.

The programme facilitates improved quality of access to consultations in secondary care to tertiary paediatric specialists. The teleconsultation involves a discussion with a child and their family, a local paediatrician and a specialist from Alder Hey via a video link either in a clinic room or by using a telecart at the child’s bedside. The specialist from Alder Hey will have a discussion about the clinical management and care of the child during the video- enabled consultation and will be able to answer any questions that arise from either the family or the local paediatrician.

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