Patients are being given the option of video consultations as part of a new project at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH).
SASH, which runs East Surrey Hospital and provides some other local services, is one of the first trusts in the country to take part in a national trial looking at whether the technology could be more convenient for patients.
The platform has been used in Australia and NHS Highlands in Scotland, and works via video link using patients’ computers, tablets or smartphones.
The video consultations are being offered to patients identified as suitable by their doctor or nurse. They can still choose to attend in person if they wish.
Initially the appointments are for those seeing certain consultants and therapists in diabetes, gynaecology, dental, surgical pre-assessment, paediatrics, pain, rheumatology, urology and speech and language therapy.
Eleanor Brewer, service manager at SASH, said: “We recognise that the traditional face to face hospital appointment isn’t always convenient for patients due to time and travel constraints, and we know that some patients currently have to attend a number of different appointments, which can be really disruptive to their everyday lives.
“This platform makes it possible to have a convenient video consultation from home or in their work place rather than having to travel in to the hospital, which can take hours out of a patient’s day.”
Dr Siân Griffith, consultant rheumatologist, has been using the platform since September. She said: “Patients have rated the process of booking and joining the call as either good or very good and they tell us that they have been able to communicate everything they need to with me.
“Patients report saving up to three hours travelling, and by conducting appointments by video it reduces congestion in our car parks and waiting areas.”
“Every patient I have seen by video so far has been happy to conduct future appointments in this way,” she added.