NHS Digital outpatients service helps hospital capacity

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A new digital outpatients service is being rolled out in England in partnership with the National Health Service, to help reduce unnecessary in-person hospital appointments.

NHS partnership Health Call is launching the service to connect clinicians with patients at home, reducing the need to attend hospital appointments in person during the pandemic. Health Call is a collaboration between seven NHS Foundation Trusts, and delivers digital health services across England.

The service will be powered by Inhealthcare, a digital healthcare and remote monitoring provider. Their video conferencing platform that will enable better communications between healthcare professionals and people living with long-term conditions.

Inhealthcare enables patients to self-test and self-report questionnaires, blood tests and vital sign measurements without meeting clinicians face-to-face. It currently supports more than 500,000 patients across the UK.

The service has been created to help hospitals build capacity in outpatient services, as well as reduce the number of unnecessary nurse visits to care homes, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

It integrates directly with hospital administration systems to book appointments, deliver reminders, record attendance, distribute and gather patient questionnaires and share outcome forms with electronic patient records.

Patients can choose to communicate via a mobile app, web browser, text message or telephone landline, depending on preference.

“The NHS embraced video conferencing at the onset of coronavirus but early services lacked functions to make life easier for users, whether patients or professionals” said Andrew Izon, director of Health Call and chief information officer at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

“The digital outpatients service builds on the success of video conferencing with an all-encompassing approach to help hospitals meet outpatient demand and catch up on the growing backlog of cancelled or delayed appointments.

“Our team of digital health specialists have created a service which is intuitive to use, enables the sharing of real-time data and improves quality of life by helping patients to manage their health, their way.”