A North Staffordshire scheme will give clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the area access to video consultation technology.
The Sentinel reports that a new £272,000 scheme will see GPs holding video consultations with care home residents without them having to leave their surgery.
GP practices as well as nursing and residential homes will have access to computer tablets installed with audio-visual programmes, health management apps and video consultation technology.
The scheme hopes to reduce NHS costs by £1 million over the next four years by reducing ambulance call-out and accident unit visits, The Sentinel reports.
CCG head of commissioning Dave Sanzeri said: “Meeting care needs and improving services for frail and elderly people through a new model of care is one of our highest priorities and this funding will allow us to harness the benefits of modern technology to provide better healthcare.
Using this technology can improve health outcomes for patients and residents in care homes by offering their carers speedy access to extended expert primary care support, giving our patients effective care from integrated health teams.”
Project leader Dr Anil Sonnathi said: “This initiative will allow bedside-based consultations with remote clinicians and extended care teams to take place. It will allow for the establishment of ‘virtual wards’ under the care of geriatricians working closely with GPs to save valuable clinic time and improve health outcomes for patients.”
North Staffordshire Healthwatch coordinator Ian Syme said: “This is a good idea and will free up GPs’ time. There needs to be extremely strict safeguards in place to ensure this works and it cannot be seen as an alternative to seeing the GP in person. There will be problems because some of the elderly people in the care homes will not be used to the technology and may be confused and the staff at the institutions can’t think that because there has been a consultation that everything is OK.”