Telepresence used by NHS trust to move ‘bed-blockers’

Virtual meetings conducted via telepresence are saving an NHS Trust £150,000 per year, reports.

The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust introduced telepresence in 2009 in order to review patient progress. At that time it was listed as one of the worst performing London trusts in terms of delayed patient discharges.

However, since the system was implemented, the trust has managed to free-up some ‘400 bed-days’ per year, through the group discussion and quick decision-making that teleprescence allows. This has elevated them to one of the best performing trusts.

Jar O’Brien, of Islington’s community rehabilitation service explained that on a daily basis, the hospital administration team compiles a list of patients that need to be discharged from hospital. This is sent to around 15 people from among community services, the hospital social work team and the patient discharge team, who participate in a virtual meeting.

“We are literally running through the list, seeing which actions need to be carried out and what other information is needed,” Mr O’Brien told “And we are literally calling on social workers or ward staff for an update.”

Naturally, this has also saved the Trust money, reducing bed costs and the penalty charges incurred for discharge delays.

“Initially there were a lot of sceptical people,” adds Mr O’Brien, “but I championed it and people who were sceptical in week one were not longer sceptical in week two.”