imageMarch 5127 Award Winner

Digital care is providing thousands of patients, including those living in rural locations and who may be in the last year of their lives, with the reassurance of round-the-clock care, whenever their need it.

Residents living in around 200 care homes across the country are linked up to a Telehealth Hub, at Airedale Hospital, staffed 24 hours, seven days a week by highly skilled nurses who specialise in acute care.

They can have a face-to-face consultation via a video link, from the comfort of their own home, with a consultant on hand if needed – or just some friendly advice and support. It means they avoid making stressful and costly trips to hospital and the service provides vital medical support for care home staff out of hours.

Our findings are that for the nursing and residential home using this technology:-image

• hospital admissions dropped by 37%

• use of A&E dropped by 45%.

Telemedicine is also used to support around 100 patients with long term conditions such as COPD, heart failure, complex diabetes in their own homes. There is evidence that amongst this group, this has resulted in:-

• a 45% drop in hospital admissions

• a 60% fall in A&E attendances

• a 50% reduction in overall bed days

This technology helps provide more care for residents at home or in their care home. This is what our patients, their relatives and the nursing home staff prefer and so it’s been down to us to change the way we provide our specialist care to meet their needs.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust (ANHSFT) has been using telemedicine for over eight years, initially providing a national telemedicine service to the prison sector. Offenders benefit from getting healthcare and specialist advice more quickly, there is a cost saving by reducing escorts, increased privacy and dignity for prisoners and a reduction in the security risk of taking prisoners to hospitals. The Trust has teamed up with technical partners Involve in a partnership called Immedicare and over 6000 patients are now linked to the Telehealth Hub where staff have access to a patient’s electronic full care record thanks to the introduction of TPP SystmOne shared by both primary and secondary care professionals.

Gold Line is another fabulous digital project at Airedale Hospital – a dedicated telephone service providing advice and support to over 800 patients who are recognised as being in the last year of life. The Trust was successful in a bid to the Health Foundation and with support from our commissioners the service was launched in November 2013. Around 30 of these patients are also supported using telemedicine via an iPad. Watch a short video of Judith (a patient) talking about Gold Line who describes it as “a friend sat in the corner of my home” at http://www.airedale-trust.nhs.uk/services/the-gold-line/

Independent evaluation of Gold Line is due to be published in the summer of 2015.