Technology helps patient discharges

Helena Palin, Digital Nurse Specialist

ONE side effect from the Coronavirus pandemic has been the change in use of technology and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals hopes to capitalise on this to improve the patient experience for some frail, elderly people.

As organisations have become more used to communicating using remote methods, the Trust has taken on Digital Nurse Champion, Helena Palin, who has immediately identified that digital technology can help improve discharges from hospitals to care homes.

“Traditionally a senior member of the care home staff would come to the ward to assess the patient to see if they are suitable for discharge into their facility,” Helena explained.

“This can take some time to arrange and mean a patient has to remain in hospital when medically they are fit for discharge.

“But using a secure, remote link video, the care home can introduce themselves to the patient and do a virtual assessment without having to come to the hospital.

“This is much better for the patient because the video facility also allows the patient to see the home and maybe even their room before they are discharged which can relieve much of the anxiety,” Helena added.

The Digital Health Informatics Team, which is based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, has won a number of awards for its technological innovation and Helena was part of the award winning remote care team which provided virtual consultations to both Clifton Hospital and Trinity Hospice.

 Helena, a former ward manager at Clifton Hospital, started her new job this month and is already making her mark with the new discharge scheme.

“We are linked with 140 care homes across the Fylde coast and they already have the software installed so the facility and the infrastructure is there for us to start immediately. This will be about giving a better level of patient care and helping people feel confident about where they are going when they leave hospital. It will allow us to get patients to the right place at the right time.”

Helena said the digital team had been working hard for many months to promote a better way of working through the use of technology, but said the Coronavirus pandemic had increased the need for remote access rather than face-to-face consultation.

“COVID-19 has had the side-effect of pushing digital to the forefront of clinical and medical work and we are able to capitalise on this to give a better service to patients,” she added.

“These are exciting times and this is definitely the way forward and will revolutionise the way we work as we become more digitally focused.”

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