Londonderry team wins top award for remote diabetes antenatal service
A Londonderry team has won a top award for adapting its diabetes antenatal service during the first wave of the pandemic to help support pregnant women during “a time of anxiety and concern”.
Staff at the team at the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s Gestational Diabetes Pathway at Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry/Londonderry have scooped the British Medical Journal Award in the category of Innovation in Quality Improvement.
This innovative model of care has made it possible for us to continue our commitment to support expectant mothers at a time of anxiety and concern Dr Athinyaa Thiraviaraj, Consultant Physician in Diabetes & Endocrinology at the Western Trust
They were recognised for implementing an exceptional level of telehealth care, which involved the roll out of simplified video communications in partnership with Hospital Services Limited (HSL), a Northern Ireland-based specialist distributor of bespoke healthcare IT solutions to health establishments.
The partnership with HSL began in January 2019 and the first stage involved consultants incorporating a state-of-the-art telehealth (video appointment) solution by Pexip into their daily patient care, helping to maintain and improve patient contact despite limited access due to COVID-19.
Since November 2020 more than 1,000 consultations have been carried out via the integrated interface which has helped keep the women’s communications open during a period of time which has seen reduced opportunity for in-person appointments.
Dr Athinyaa Thiraviaraj, Consultant Physician in Diabetes & Endocrinology at the Western Trust and who led the programme, said: “Working in partnership with women who attend our service, we have been able to develop, test, and standardise video-consultations.
“This has helped our service to continue with minimal interruptions through both the first and second surge of the pandemic. This innovative model of care has made it possible for us to continue our commitment to support expectant mothers at a time of anxiety and concern.
“I can’t see our service defaulting to phone clinics. It’s just not the same when you are engaging in complex conversations like a health care consultation.”
Answering the need for the Trust team to closely interact with the pregnant women for accurate diagnostics and treatment, HSL integrated its simplified video communications technologies, or HSL Telehealth, into the Trust’s existing patient administration systems (PAS) and electronic patient records (EPR), ensuring the new video call capabilities became part of the existing healthcare workflow.
Sam McMaster, Director of Telehealth at HSL, said: “It is an imperative that whichever technology is adopted by a healthcare team, it must integrate seamlessly with existing systems and processes in order to become highly effective, intuitively used by care providers, if the solution is to gain widespread acceptance and be scalable across the whole spectrum of patients.
“It is for this reason that we made it our priority to ensure our Telehealth service by Pexip was embedded into existing procedures and processes to enable clinicians to utilise this technology without adding to their already large workload. No other service offers this level of integration, and as a result it will increase capacity in the NHS without placing extra stress on its resources. Costs are reduced and clinicians’ time better utilised while outpatients avoid the need to travel.”
The project has seen a proportionally significant impact on the environment, saving about 15,811 miles of travel for 654 appointments. This equates to 4.37 tonnes of Co2.
The service implemented by HSL at the Western Trust uses tried and tested technology. With the tap of a screen, clinicians can organise a remote and secure outpatient consultation requiring only a webcam, while patients access the sessions via a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC.