Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Northamptonshire, UK, is offering patients the chance to connect digitally to their loved ones through the NHS Book a Virtual Visit service.
The solution developed by public sector technology firm, Made Tech allows patients to access virtual visits despite COVID-19 restrictions in hospitals. It has also been developed to include immediate rebooking and reoccurring visits.
Since its implementation at Kettering General Hospital in July, the service has facilitated more than 900 visits across 25 wards, averaging calls of 50 minutes.
This includes the emergency department, where the service is facilitating communication in short stay wards, where patients might not have access to their own communication devices.
NHS Book a Virtual Visit will next be rolled-out to Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust as part of the two acute trusts continued partnership to deliver high-quality, coordinated care for the whole of Northamptonshire.
WHY IT MATTERS
Created within the principles of open source and to the Government Digital Service and NHS Digital standards, the service allows ward staff to schedule calls between patients and visitors, with minimal data needed to support the call.
Hosted in the cloud, the secure and OS agnostic digital service does not require users to install any third-party applications, can be accessed via any website browser, and works across any device, ensuring patient inclusion.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The implementation in Kettering General follows a July announcement from Made Tech that it had developed the alpha of the digital service in 48 hours for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH).
NHS Book a Virtual Visit has now been adopted by four trusts including Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust and St Marks Hospital London, with more than 8,000 virtual visits made since the start of the pandemic.
ON THE RECORD
Ian Roddis, deputy chief digital and information officer at Kettering General Hospital, said: “Prior to NHS Book a Virtual Visit we’d been using a commercial product that had information governance and safeguarding issues. The Made Tech digital service meets our rapidly evolving user needs, in an open, safe and interoperable way.”
Anna Awoliyi, chief allied health information officer at the trust, said: “Virtual visiting goes beyond our current climate. NHS Book a Virtual Visit also enables visits where a lack of affordability in terms of travel, or mobility is an issue. This is a long-term solution that we will continue to work with Made Tech to develop to fit the needs of our patients and staff.”
Luke Morton, chief technology officer at Made Tech, said: “With the support of NHSX and NHS Digital we hope that trusts continue to innovate, focusing on developing open source digital services whose benefit can be felt across trusts, and integrated care systems for the benefit of patients.”