Patients at Whipps Cross Hospital can now speak to their clinician over Skype, freeing them from having to travel to the hospital for appointments.
The first Skype clinics were held this month offering rheumatology patients the opportunity to receive care from work, home or school - or even while away on holiday.
Katherine Chalkley, 28 from Walthamstow and a patient at the hospital for the last three years, said: “I don’t feel like it’s necessary to come into the hospital to see the rheumatology team for every appointment so it’s great that there’s the option to have an appointment via Skype. I used my mobile phone for the appointment at home but I would definitely consider doing it from work in future.”
Skype appointments will be rolled out across more Whipps Cross clinics and other Barts Health hospitals over the next few months. Patients will be offered a choice of Skype or traditional appointments in person, except where they are required to attend for physical assessments.
It is hoped that most patients will embrace the option of Skype appointments following a hugely successful scheme at Newham Hospital which has cut the number of missed diabetes appointments from 30-50 per cent to just 11-13 per cent. Last year the Health Foundation awarded Barts Health £3.5 million from its Scaling Up improvement programme to take Newham’s success across the UK and impact positively on patient outcomes.
Becky Adshead, Specialist Physiotherapist at Whipps Cross Hospital, said: “We need to think outside the box and embrace technology in how we help our patients. By using Skype we can offer our patients the same high quality care but which will now fit much easier with their lifestyle. We hope this will reduce the number of appointments people are forced to cancel and improve their overall experience.”
The team at Whipps Cross Hospital treat 700 patients with rheumatological condition Ankylosing Spondylitis. Many are young people who are forced to take time off work to attend appointments, so the team are offering another way to see their clinician.