London /PRNewswire/ -
- 'Digital Protective Equipment' could be used more by clinicians when they can't be in hospital (or don't need to be) to protect medical staff and patients as COVID-19 infection continues to spread in hospital settings.
- Clinical grade imaging can be viewed remotely and without the need to physically see the patient to deal with the referral, said Ayman Kasir, Gastroenterology Locum Registrar at Royal Oldham Hospital.
- Almost 100,000 NHS staff were reported to be sick or self-isolating according to latest NHS figures, with half of these due to COVID-19.
NHS staff including radiologists, gastroenterologists and sonographers could be provided better protection from COVID-19 infection through the use of medical grade imaging and communication apps that allow for the ability to conduct their work via remote working.
Keeping NHS staff safe and healthy is vital in the fight against COVID-19 as hospitals across the UK look to adapt their processes and deliver the best in patient care. The global pandemic has forced hospitals to reconsider their daily operations and analyse alternative ways of working.
A clinician who has successfully managed remote referrals, while shielding from infection during COVID-19, Dr Ayman Kasir said:
"As a gastroenterology locum registrar, I was covering clinical work at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Manchester when COVID-19 escalated to a global pandemic. Due to existing health conditions, I was advised to shield from other people – including patients – for my own safety. This meant that I was confined to a desk, isolating from colleagues, and unable to see patients face to face," he explained.
"To continue supporting the gastroenterology team, my responsibility was to review
patient cases and make clinical decisions on referrals. With a CE-marked app called Bleepa that had been introduced to the hospital, I was able to see all patient information remotely and didn't need to physically see the patient to deal with the referral. This made it much safer not only for me personally but also for patients and colleagues in order to minimise contact with others."
Including Royal Oldham Hospital, Bleepa was deployed across the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust as a key clinical communication tool in the Trust's COVID-19 response. This included flagging patients by key clinical indicators (for example, COVID-19 status or ventilation status), mapping these with patient location through integration with the Trust's administration system and allowing monitoring of ventilator availability by ward location. It also facilitated local patient recruitment onto the Recovery Trial, allowing the clinical teams to refer patients directly to the research nurse team.
With the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital still high, pressure on staff remains and a more sustainable approach to NHS workplaces is needed as a matter of urgency. If the right tools are put in place to support remote working for clinicians, pressure on workloads and the impact on patients could be radically improved.
Clinician and CEO of Feedback Medical, Dr Tom Oakley, said "with the right technology - frontline NHS staff can benefit from connectivity and peer support, without needing to be physically present in the hospital."
A key part of a clinician's role – getting a clinical decision quickly and putting it into effect – can still be performed if he or she is self-isolating during COVID-19," he said.
I would call this 'Digital Protective Equipment', alongside PPE and vaccination. It not only helps clinicians when they can't be in the hospital (or don't need to be) but it also protects patients as COVID-19 infection is continuing to spread in hospital settings. Reducing person to person interactions in hospitals is key, as in any other setting, and the right digital communication allows this."
Programme Director for DigitalHealth.London, Jenny Thomas, an NHS-delivered, government and charitable funded organisation which accelerates the adoption of digital innovation in the NHS.
"Bleepa's CE-marked remote working tool ensures secure transfer and storage of patient data, improves sharing of medical grade imaging and can fully integrate with hospital administration systems. It is a great example of how digital health can support the NHS, particularly at this challenging time."
Critically, Dr Oakley highlights the importance of using correct, CE-marked clinical communication tools if clinicians are working remotely.
"With the right technology available to them, I would suggest that those clinicians that can work from home should during the pandemic for their own safety and infection control. A CE-marked tool can enable excellent communication between clinicians, management of individual patient pathways, patient data storage that complies with data security (not stored locally on any device) and sharing of medical grade imagery for fast decision-making that is fully integrated into the hospital's administration system."
Notes to editors
About the figures
Data source: COVID Hospital activity publication, figures taken from 'All absences -Total number of staff absent from work through sickness or self-isolation' and 'COVID absences - The number of COVID-19 related absences of staff, either through sickness or self-isolation'. COVID absences were assessed as a proportion of the total absences".
About Feedback Medical
Feedback is a group of companies that aims to liberate clinicians. We do this by thinking differently and offering safer, secure and simpler alternatives to the traditional ways of working.
Bleepa, is a revolutionary medical imaging communications app, providing an easy-to-use, high quality tool to enable remote and secure communications between front-line clinicians and teams. Importantly, it is the only CE marked medical imaging communications platform on the NHSX clinical communications tools framework. www.bleepa.com
DigitalHealth.London is a collaborative programme delivered by MedCity, and London's three Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners, Imperial College Health Partners and the Health Innovation Network. It is supported by NHS England (London) and the Mayor's Office. The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is supported by the additional partner, CW+, and is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund. Bleepa is currently one of 20 digital health companies on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.