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New video solutions can help the NHS keep humanity in their care during the coronavirus

Topics: Building a solution

The coronavirus is pushing our NHS to its limit. Every second of unnecessary waste in the delivery of care is a problem we must now work to eliminate. That’s why DrDoctor has been working around the clock to expand our offer of patient communications tools and help reduce the burden on the NHS at this critical time.

The NHS has already made great strides adapting to mobile and remote consultation to help reduce the burden on hospitals. The 111 system alone has saved countless trips to the A&E and Trusts and surgeries have added tools like SMS appointment systems to help reduce the burden of administration. But there is clearly more to do. Until people feel ‘remote’ visits with their doctors and nurses are the same as an in-person visit, hospitals will continue to receive unnecessary visitors.

To help cut down the number of in-person visits, the DrDoctor team has spent the past week building an entirely new suite of tools for our Trusts, including a brand-new solution - video conferencing - to help the NHS cope with increased pressure caused by Covid-19. The government has deferred all non-urgent medical appointments to keep people from entering hospitals, but by doing the consultations remotely (via phone or video) patients can keep receiving care even in these unprecedented times.

The benefits of a video connection with a carer in the healthcare setting is the same as those of a FaceTime call with family over a traditional phone call. So much of our communication is non-verbal and reliant on us showing things. We can express hesitation, concern and understanding without saying a word, but a doctor can pick up on these from our faces and reassure us when we need it. Then there are the practical considerations; showing a skintag, a cut or a flair up is much easier than describing it verbally. Ultimately, establishing a human connection and a reciprocal line of communication is easier when we can look at each other in the eye.

There are additional benefits to using video in the healthcare setting that reach beyond regular check-ups. With the pressure mounting across the NHS, new and strict measures have understandably been taken to protect our care providers. For example, the government has restricted non-emergency hospital attendance. As a result, maternity units have had to place limitations on birthing partners accompanying women attending perinatal clinics and giving birth.

As the Coronavirus epidemic accelerates, women are now faced with the prospect of attending scans and giving birth alone. If mum and baby need medical attention and a hospital stay after birth, new dads face the prospect of not meeting their new-born until they are being discharged. In other words, one of life’s most precious moments risks being lost.

The government is clearly doing what it thinks is needed to combat the spread of the virus, and that’s to be applauded. But it’s also an opportunity for companies like ours, whose primary mission is to help the NHS look after patients, to think quickly and come up with workarounds.

To help parents we’ve been working with hospitals like GWH and Guy’s & St Thomas to streamline communication in their maternity clinics. The next level of help for all expecting families, at a time like this, is to offer tools like video-conferencing that can somewhat alleviate the outcome of hospital restrictions.

Using a video connection to bring remote partners together in the delivery suite does not by any means equal an in-person experience for anyone involved. But if given the choice of having a partner completely absent or being able to hear and see him or her at a time when we really need them, we all know which one we would choose.

We all need to stay connected in this time of isolation. Until things return to normal, we should offer every hospital the safe ability to provide video appointments to anyone that needs it right now. And in the future, when we move back to normality, we’ll have more options on how we can modernise the care we receive on the NHS.