HSE Media Release: 26th June 2020
During the current Covid-19 Pandemic video conferencing has enabled clinicians to support patient’s/service users online. The HSE is now using Attend Anywhere a web based video conferencing tool to provide video consultations to patient’s/service users through virtual clinics known as ‘waiting rooms’. It is a simple, safe, easy to use and reliable technology for both patients and clinicians. The system has been designed and tested specifically for use in clinical settings.Attend Anywhere is currently being rolled out across the Irish Health Service for use in community and hospital services with 1,700 consultations now being held on a weekly basis. HSE Community Healthcare Organisation Area 1, covering Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan, has been to the forefront and an early adopter of Attend Anywhere. The area has been involved in the EU funded INTERREG mPower Project over the last 3 years and has been working very closely with partners in Northern Ireland and in particular Scotland who are one of the leading countries worldwide in technology enabled care. mPower aims to support older people with a long term condition to live well, safely and independently in their own home.
The deployment of Attend Anywhere ensures patients can be seen in virtual clinics via video link, a key factor in reducing face to face appointments and in turn the possible spread of Covid-19 in the community. Video appointments allow us to provide quality care while keeping patients/service users and staff safe.
Appointments are arranged in the usual way with patients receiving a link to their online consultation via email or text. No special accounts, passwords, software or dial-ins are needed, only an internet enabled device such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop. Upon clicking the link patients enter their own private online waiting room, where they are met by their clinician for an on-screen appointment. The clinician and patient can see and speak to each other as well as share and discuss documents like test results, letters and case notes. It’s also a great way for family members and carers to be involved with discussions about a person’s care and treatment, as up to five people can take part from different devices. Appointments are strictly confidential and conversations are not recorded and will not leave a digital foot print.
Donegal Physiotherapy Service are seeing some of their patients via Attend Anywhere, speaking about the technology, HSE Senior Physiotherapist at St Joseph’s Community Hospital, Moya Ferguson said, “Attend Anywhere has enabled us to actively engage with our clients face to face via video call. We have found it to be a great adjunct to physiotherapy. We have been able to check clients range of movement, their gait, provide home exercise programmes and progress their rehabilitation such as getting them off crutches and sticks”. Clients of the service also commented on their positive experience of this approach. One client commented that, “The video call was very good. It gave me reassurance that I was doing the exercises correctly and helped me feel more confident. I wouldn’t have been able to see the physio otherwise at this time”.
According to Fiona Gilliland, Cavan/Monaghan Physiotherapy Manager “We have been using Attend Anywhere Technology over the last few months in Cavan Monaghan Physiotherapy Services and are very excited about this development. In future due to social distancing restrictions, vulnerable clients and for those who cannot travel this is a great option for treatment. We can also use a blended approach whereby we can see the patient initially face to face and follow up with an Attend Anywhere call on Attend Anywhere. It is a secure platform and works on a mobile phone or laptop. In the Cavan Monaghan Physiotherapy Department, we are looking at using Attend Anywhere for Group work. Prior to the current restrictions we would have run group sessions for people at risk of falls, people with specific issues like Parkinson’s and for people with low back pain or general low exercise tolerance. Attend Anywhere will enable us to do group work with people at home too! The feedback from patients and families has been really positive. One patient who attended a group session commented “I enjoyed the classes very much and I have great confidence in my Physiotherapist.”
Audiology Services based in Stranorlar and Sligo have adopted Attend Anywhere technology to follow up hearing aid service users and check on how they are getting on with their hearing aids, to troubleshoot any issues and demonstrate simple repair work where possible. Where hearing aids have been posted out to clients Attend Anywhere has been used to show new patients and their families how to fit and use their new aids. It has also been used to follow up with parents on how their child is using their hearing aids for example learning to listen and develop understanding and speech. Patricia Barr, HSE Community Hearing Services Manager Donegal/Sligo/Leitrim commented “We started to roll out of Attend Anywhere the first week in June and three clinicians mainly to date have fitted 23 adults and reviewed 10 children. The feedback from clinicians to date has been positive.”
In addition to services outlined above, Attend Anywhere is also being used in Mental Health Services across CHO 1 over the past few months. To date CHO 1 has established 64 virtual waiting rooms and 295 Clinicians have been trained and registered to use Attend Anywhere as part of their service provision. The National Virtual Health Team has provided excellent training and support alongside our CHO 1 Attend Anywhere Project Team.
Please click on link to see how Attend Anywhere is working across CHO 1 Services https://youtu.be/9fIPBItmhgQ
Attend Anywhere is still in the early stages of implementation, however the use of this new technology as an integral part of health service delivery is increasing, because of the benefits it can provide during and post COVID 19. These include a reduced risk of infection as physical distancing can be maintained; an additional choice of engagement for the patient/client with his/her service provider; an alternative to travel to a clinic saving time, money and potentially the need for a family member to take time off work to accompany a relative to an appointment.
It is acknowledged that the medium of video call consultation is not suitable for every service or indeed every patient/client, but it provides a viable alternative to a telephone or face to face consultation. The HSE looks forward to the further roll out of Attend Anywhere to support as many patient’s/service users in the weeks and months ahead.
Last updated on: 26 / 06 / 2020