Video link hospital appointments are being exclusively trialled in Sussex as part of the NHS’ long-term plan to use technology to improve care.
Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare is one of the first trusts to test the video consultations as part of a national trial.
The aim is to see if patients have more control over their care and are able to easily fit routine appointments and check-ups around their day-to-day lives.
The platform, which has been used in Australia and NHS Highlands in Scotland, allows patients to speak to their GP through a video link using a computer, tablet or smart phone.
Eileen Smith from Surrey was one of the first patients to take up the opportunity. She said, “The video appointment system was brilliant, it was easy and felt relaxed, I had no problems and the viewing and audio were clear.
“Next time I will use my tablet, I would recommend that you set this up for everyone to use as it is so much better than trying to get to the hospital, please make this work, it worked for me and I can see the benefits for medical professionals as well.
“As the saying goes, best thing since sliced bread. Thank you.”
Eleanor Brewer, service manager said, “We recognise the traditional face-to-face hospital appointment isn’t always convenient for patients due to time and travel constraints and we know some patients currently have to attend a number of different appointments.
“This platform makes it possible to have a convenient video consultation from home or in the workplace rather than having to travel in to the hospital, which can take hours out of a patient’s day.
“This will allow patients to fit appointments and check-ups around their day-to-day lives more easily and feedback shows that some people find this more convenient and a better experience.”
Dr Griffith, a consultant rheumatologist who has been using the platform to conduct video consultations since September, said, “Patients have rated the process of booking and joining the call as either good or very good and they tell us they have been able to communicate everything they need to with me.
“Patients report saving up to three hours travelling and by conducting appointments by video it reduces congestion in our car parks and waiting areas.
“Overall patient and doctor satisfaction has been good and everyone I have seen by video so far have been happy to conduct future appointments in this way.”