Telemedicine in Hambleton and Richmondshire
Within the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas we have an ageing population living in a rural and remote environment. The infrastructure within the Yorkshire Dales is far from robust, with intermittent public transport links to The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and The Friarage Hospital, Northallerton. Travel time by private vehicle from areas of the Dales to either hospital is upwards of one hour, and longer by public transport. In winter access to anywhere beyond the most immediate locale becomes impossible.
The vision for the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas is to have a digitally connected healthcare system using telemedicine; for the community, whether GP surgeries or nursing homes to be digitally connected to the hospitals, and vice versa, to enable the delivery of care closer to people’s homes.
In order to achieve this vision four phases are proposed:
Phase 1 – Remote access to hospital systems from consultants’ homes
The first phase is to provide remote access to the Friarage hospital systems for consultants whilst at home. This will speed up clinical decisions out of hours. 9 of the 14 laptops have been installed with the remainder to be installed by the end of July 2015.
Phase 2 – Telecart providing video link between the Friarage's Clinical Decisions Unit and consultants’ homes
The second phase will provide a video link between CDU and the consultants’ homes, via a telecart which can be wheeled to the side of a patient’s. This will increase patient safety and allow for more timely decisions to be made by senior clinicians without them having to travel from home to the hospital. Two telecarts and necessary licenses have been ordered and are due to be installed by autumn 2015.
Phases 3 and 4
Looking at connecting community hospitals and nursing homes with CDU, and linking GP practices and community locations with the Friarage.
Public and staff engagement
At each phase, members of the public and staff will be engaged with and involved in the development of the service through a series of demonstrations and workshops. It is vital that both the public and staff are comfortable using the proposed technology for it to succeed.
In August 2015, we held an initial 'proof of concept' workshop at the Friarage Hospital, to which we invited clinical staff and members of our Health Engagement Network who had previously expressed interest in the project. This gave people an opportunity to test out systems and get a better understanding of how it would work.
The afternoon went very well, with clinicans and members of the public in separate rooms, testing out the video link (pictured below). Following this, a session was held where we discussed people's perceptions, concerns and views to help us further develop the project.