Time for reflection
The end of the year is always a time for reflection, both personally and professionally. The external interest in our work has continued unabated over the last two months, with further national figures,such as Earl Howe, visiting our Telehealth Hub. We have taken the opportunity to demonstrate how we are implementing our Right Care strategy to ensure patients’are put at the centre of the care we provide, using telemedicine to cross traditional care boundaries and bring appropriate care nearer to the patient’s own care setting, be that their own home, a care home or a prison.
I was invited to present our experience and data to a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in November. This was alongside other speakers such as Robert Wah, former medical advisor to the US President and current President of the American Medical Association. Without resting on our laurels, it was reassuring to hear that much of the aspirational work described by co-speakers, including Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, was in place or part of our plan for the use of the integrated health record and telemedicine at Airedale. In the two weeks leading up to the RSM meeting, the work of the telehealth hub was also cited in two national documents – the Five Year Forward View and Personalised health and care 2020. The work of many colleagues at Airedale was also recognised nationally when we were asked to host Radio 5 for their live evening ‘Drivetime’ programme at the end of October.
Internally we continue to support over 800 patients in their own homes as part of our ‘Gold Line’ initiative – supporting patients in their last year of life through a single point of access, including video link for some patients. Over 5,000 residents in care homes are supported via telemedicine for support by a cohort of dedicated advanced practitioner nurses and over 8000 people in offender settings.
Looking forward to the New Year there will inevitably be challenges as we try to deliver holistic care across the somewhat artificial boundaries that have developed across local and national health economies. Changes in the funding of prison health services poses a challenge as we try to deliver innovative ways of working to address the often inequity of healthcare access for the prison population. This is all at a time when the pressures on the medical and nursing staff trying to deliver the traditional model of healthcare is ever increasing leaving little room to take on additional, or different ways of working. I believe that over the next few months we will see an emerging fully integrated record across our local health economy, using technology such as telemedicine to enable patients to be treated and supported differently, nearer to their own homes as we start to break down the traditional models that have been in place for over half a century.