While Googling recently (for Technology Enabled Care related reasons!) I happened to come across PawSquad. They provide “instant, qualified online vet advice” through the provision of video or text chat consultations to keep your pet “as happy and healthy as they can be”.
Amazing! Whatever will they think of next?
How about similar services for you, me and everyone else? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to use these options to support you and your family’s health or to deliver services differently? We can do that… can’t we?
YES WE CAN!
There are other health and social care partnerships in Scotland that support people to manage their health and wellbeing by video consultations and text message. There is also demand from the public with the rise of commercial companies that offer GP appointment by video with the ability to deliver medication to your door the next day or email you a prescription. Need a Physio? Initial and follow up consultations can be provided through video and exercise packages sent to your device for you to follow.
Now, some of you will be thinking “that’s all well and good but the internet connection at where I live and work is terrible!” While that may be the case right now in some of the areas across our region, it is getting better.
Don’t just take my word for it – there is an ongoing programme of work being led by the Scottish Government and Dumfries & Galloway Council to support the roll out of superfast internet access and improve the speed of regular broadband. It began in early 2014 and is planned to continue to the end of March 2018 enabling access to superfast broadband for 95% of premises in the region. The Scottish Government have also committed to deliver 100% superfast broadband by 2021. At the moment, our region looks like this:
Maybe you are thinking that the people that use your services don’t access the internet? It may surprise you to know that the internet was used daily or almost daily by 82% of adults (41.8 million) in Great Britain in 2016, compared with 78% (39.3 million) in 2015 and 35% (16.2 million) in 2006.
Or that during 2016, 70% of adults accessed the internet ‘on the go’ using a mobile phone or Smartphone, up from 66% in 2015 and nearly double the 2011 estimate of 36%. It’s not only young people using the internet, recent internet use in the 65 to 74 age group has increased from 52% in 2011 to 78% in 2017, And finally, of those people using the internet, 51% of them were looking for health related information and 43% of people are using the internet to make telephone or video calls using applications such as Skype or Facetime.
If you wish to see some statistics on Internet users in the UK click here
If you wish to see some statistics on Internet access click here
So if we have connectivity, people are familiar with the internet, they are using it to access health information, and they are using it to make video calls why are we not offering our health and social care services via video?
In some places they already are. NHS Attend Anywhere was launched at the end of 2016 and has been developed by NHS24 in collaboration with Healthdirect Australia to enable video call access to Health services as part of normal day to day practices. Instead of going to a health facility and physically sitting in a waiting room patients just use their device to access a virtual waiting area which the clinician comes and ‘collects’ them from to begin the consultation. Services delivered elsewhere in Scotland include Pharmacy Reviews, Speech and Language Therapy, Dermatology, Endocrinology, GP appointments, Out of Hours care and more.
“What do I need to be able to do this?” I hear you ask. For video consultations both the clinician and the person using the service need nothing more than a device (PC, laptop, Android or Apple tablet or Smartphone) that can access the internet with Google Chrome or an Attend Anywhere app installed and internet access of course. NHS Attend Anywhere doesn’t need superfast internet access to work and generally speaking if you can watch a video on YouTube then you will be able to participate in a video consultation.
Curious to find out more and have a go?
If you already have Google Chrome installed on your device just copy and paste the link above into your Chrome browser address bar, press the return/enter key on your keyboard and follow any onscreen instructions to take a seat in our Demo Waiting Area.
Once you are placed into the waiting area a notification will be sent to me and if I’m free I’ll come in and join you for a quick video call. If I can’t make it you will at least have seen how easy the system is to use and begin to see opportunities to use it within your service. Preliminary results from a national survey in Scotland completed by people that have used NHS Attend Anywhere already indicate that 95% of them would use it again.
Video consultations give us options for flexible services going forward. It can help to reduce travel for people using our services and it could be a tool to help us to recruit to specialist posts from elsewhere to link in to Dumfries & Galloway. If we were offering video sessions into the home, it is possible to think that the person providing the service could also be at home and not in Dumfries & Galloway?
We expect to be able to use technology to buy shopping, make travel arrangements, manage our banking, communicate with our friends and to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world. Hopefully this blog post has made you think about new ways to use technology to deliver your service or to access a service. So what are you waiting for?
For more information or help with any of this, please contact Chris Fyles, Technology Enabled Care Project Lead for Dumfries & Galloway by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LYNC: email@example.com or by phone: 07979357010 / 01387220006
Video consultation is one of four areas of focus for the Dumfries & Galloway Technology Enabled Care Programme. The others include Telecare, Digital Apps & Services and Home and Mobile Health Monitoring (HMHM).