Herts Urgent Care

NHS111 service enhanced by innovative video consultation service

Patients across Hertfordshire can now benefit from a video call back when contacting the NHS111 service.  The innovative service – the first of its kind in the country – is now available after a successful pilot which looked at new ways of enabling communication through technology.

Video consultations are an enhanced version of telephone consultations and in certain scenarios could be an alternative option to face-to-face consultations. While in many situations a face-to-face consultation will be the default option; there are scenarios where a clinically justifiable video consultation will be more convenient and accessible to the patient, without compromising their safety.

As a part of the NHS111 offering in Hertfordshire, the initiative was led by Dr Vishen Ramkisson and Dr Vipul Parbat, both local GPs and Clinical Leads for Integrated Urgent Care, as well as Dr Rafid Aziz, Medical Director for HUC, the NHS111 provider for Hertfordshire.

Patients calling NHS111 can benefit from receiving a clinical intervention earlier, once it is established that a video consultation would be suitable after an initial triage. Suitable patients benefit from a video call back from a doctor. This reduces the requirement for a face-to-face consultation later and can help to avoid onward referral to other services.

Dr Vishen Ramkisson, Clinical Lead, East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group commented that:

“The convenience of having the option of a video consultation in the evenings, weekends and overnight delivers significant benefits to patients.”

“Together with the NHS111 online service patients now have greater control and choice about how they receive advice for minor treatments. The video consulting service takes advantage of the trends in the way people are using technology and puts the patient in control by extending choice.”

Dr Rafid Aziz, Medical Director at HUC said:

“At HUC, we continuously strive to innovate to create a more efficient and effective service for patients. The video link enables early face to face clinical input, assessing the patient safely. For the patient this means a smoother consultation process and makes sure they receive the appropriate care without the need for an appointment in many cases.”

The pilot conducted last year established the suitability and reliability of the technology. Whatsapp is widely acknowledged as the most utilised free video chat tool and has end to end encryption. The pilot also looked at the human aspects of the technology adoption and ease of use to minimise barriers. Overall the patient and clinician satisfaction rates were positive, leading to this service being introduced across the Hertfordshire NHS111. Planning is now in progress to extend the service across the STP.

Patients can benefit from avoiding unnecessary journeys to hospital or time spent there. The service also minimises disruption and inconvenience; for example in the pilot, several mothers of young children commented that video, especially on weekday evenings prevented the need to wake up other children in the house if they needed to attend a face to face consultation.

Technology helps health and care professionals communicate better and enable people to access the care they need quickly and easily, when it suits them. Hertfordshire and West Essex STP alongside HUC, who run the service, have developed this service together as part the NHS long term plan and commitment to enhance and extend digital services to patients in the region.

More information NHS Digital transformation can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/digitaltechnology/

To find out more about the Hertfordshire and west Essex STP, see healthierfuture.org.uk