Imperial College rapidly deploys Attend Anywhere to cope with Covid-19

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Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has released a blueprint on its rapid rollout of Attend Anywhere to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.

The trust was piloting the video consultation platform when Covid-19 hit and took “urgent action” to deploy the technology across its hospital sites in eight days.

The rapid deployment ensured patients could be seen in virtual clinics via video link, a key factor in reducing face-to-face appointments and in turn the spread of the virus.

The blueprint, published on the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) Future NHS platform, contains information on planning and preparation; implementing; sustaining; and outcomes of the rollout.

The trust, which treats more than one million patients every year, had already committed to reducing outpatient appointments by 25% in the next four years, as required by the NHS Long Term Plan.

“The issues which had resulted from the pilot of the software had been identified and addressed and the processes to enable efficient use of the software to meet the needs of the clinicians had been agreed, which meant the trust was in the position of being able to offer the pilot to all areas of the organisation quickly,” the blueprint states.

Attend Anywhere, which is already in use by NHS Scotland, is a web-based platform that offers basic video call functionality for health and care providers. Digital Health News also understands that a separate, national agreement for the video consult platform, Attend Anywhere, has also been cleared, though the specific details are not known.

Once strategy was agreed and software installed, including creating virtual wait rooms and accounts for clinicians, patients were sent letters and text reminders informing them not to attend the hospital as their appointment would be completed virtually.

Staff were also provided training and coaching to ensure they were literate in using the software.

As the software didn’t interface with the trusts patient administration system (PAS) and electronic patient record (EPR), powered by Cerner, five site specific virtual waiting rooms were created to enable patients to check themselves in.

The lack of integration between the two technologies “proved difficult” to monitor which patients were attending video clinics, the trust noted.

“Reporting from Attend Anywhere provides a dashboard which enables the monitoring of the number of patient consultations being carried out. This can be monitored against Cerner data to ensure that the patient activity for these patients is being captured correctly,” it said.

Feedback from patient surveys during the pilot was also used to inform decisions around the wider rollout.

Outcomes

The trust expects the number of missing outpatient forms to reduce due to the ability for patients to checkout electronically. It’s also expected that the number of outpatient appointments completed via video will increase.

Data is expected to be captured in Cerner in real time for patients who have video consultations and the quality of data is expected to be enhanced due to the use of electronic checkout processes.

Staff, patient and resource flexibility is also expected to improve as video consultations become more widely used in the future.

The Blueprint Programme

The first wave of GDE blueprints were released in February 2019, designed to be used by any NHS hospital trust to more quickly instill digital improvements.

More than 80 blueprints are available on the Future platform, but since their release there’s been low uptake according to digital leaders.

Several Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs) and Clinical Information Officers (CIOs) have said the blueprints would be “worth their weight in gold” but only if shared properly and with enough resource allocated for trusts to implement them.

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