Pictured are Margaret Whoriskey, the Scottish Government’s Head of Technology Enabled Care and Digital Healthcare Innovation; Iain Trayner, TEC Project Manager; Dr David Ross, Respiratory Consultant; and Steven Jardine, BBC Scotland
Despite extremely tough competition, the highly acclaimed Attend Anywhere/Respiratory project established by NHS Western Isles has scooped a top digital award!
Attend Anywhere won the Holyrood Digital Health and Care Patient Centred Care Award for the work the NHS Western Isles Technology Enabled Care (TEC) team has been doing with Respiratory Consultant, David Ross.
All of the Digital Health and Care categories had three nominees, with the exception of the Patient Centred Care category, which had four, so it was especially encouraging to have won in this category!
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our local project has won this award, which is very well deserved.
“As remote and rural islands, we have a responsibility to our patients in the Western Isles to ensure that services are available to them as efficiently and as safely as possible, despite the obvious additional challenges we face in terms of our geography.”
The ‘tele-respiratory’ service uses ‘Attend Anywhere’, a high quality, low bandwidth platform that does not require any special software, only Google Chrome and a webcam.
It can be accessed from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. This means it is very flexible and can be used literally anywhere.
Using Attend Anywhere, Dr Ross can now see patients in Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra (remotely) in the same day. There are significant travel time and cost savings which can be reinvested back into patient care. Waiting lists are consequently much shorter and urgent patients can be seen immediately, without the need to wait for the consultant’s next visit to the Western Isles.
Because the quality of Attend Anywhere, introduced in the Western Isles in April 2017, is so good, patients engage very well and the presence of a nurse in the consultation helps them feel supported.
A waiting area facility offers them the security of knowing they are in the right place at the right time, and that the clinician knows they are waiting.
Patients have told NHS Western Isles that they feel the health service has really listened to them and taken on board their worries and anxieties about waiting for appointments and the need to travel, especially if they are experiencing breathing difficulties.
The success of the respiratory clinics has been a driver for transforming other services, using Attend Anywhere (multiple sclerosis, rheumatology and smoking cessation to name a few), which has hugely improved the patient experience overall.
Rolling out the benefits of Attend Anywhere
NHS Western Isles currently uses Attend Anywhere to run virtual clinics for respiratory, rheumatology, and Multiple Sclerosis. One for orthopaedics has been tested but is not yet live.
The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics has also been using Attend Anywhere for Uist and Barra patients, and both the Pain Association and our clinical skills team use it to deliver training to the Uists and Barra.
Pictured are Elizabeth Fowler, TEC Project Officer, and Iain Trayner, TEC Project Manager, with the award
TEC Project Manager, Iain Trayner explained: “We have combined Attend Anywhere with some new remote diagnostic technology that can facilitate detailed virtual examinations for people with ear, nose, throat and skin conditions, we are currently testing this with the dermatology service and the pathway analysis is showing us that we can seriously reduce, if not eradicate, the current waiting times of up to four weeks after referral by a GP.
“We know that Dr Ross has seen just under 200 people remotely using Attend Anywhere, with some of these into their own homes and at least one to a different country (the patient was on holiday)!”
Iain added: "We didn't think we were going to win being up against such strong competition but it was very rewarding to have our work recognised at a national level.
“Dr Ross has been instrumental as a clinical champion and helping to drive the move towards digital health care provision for his patients. If we can provide these services direct into someone's home then it can save them having to travel which can be a real burden for people with these types of conditions.
“By providing virtual consultations we have been able to generate more capacity in the system which in turn reduces the waiting times for people who have been referred into the service, Dr Ross can now see both urgent and routine cases in different locations across our islands in the same day.”
Mr Jamieson, Chief Executive NHS Western Isles, added: “Attend Anywhere is clearly improving access to services for our patients, and demonstrates the Board’s commitment to becoming a world leader in the application of telehealth, to improve how we provide services to patients.
“What is so encouraging about Attend Anywhere is, not just the clear benefits we recognise as health professionals, in terms of patient safety and efficiency of time, but also that feedback from patients has been so positive. It’s not always easy and comfortable to embrace change, and in particular new technology, but we are delighted that feedback from both patients and staff has been excellent.
“I would like to congratulate the staff involved on behalf of NHS Western Isles and the Board, for introducing, developing and progressing this innovative person centred system.”