Care home residents are avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and GP appointments because of a pioneering telemedicine service which connects them straight to trained staff.

Around  400 care and residential homes in England are now using the secure video link technology that is being provided by the Digital Care Hub, based at Airedale Hospital. 

Team leader Annette Ferrier, who is speaking at BusinessCloud’s  ‘Transforming healthcare through technology’ conference on November 23rd  in Chorley,  said her team was now fielding around 2,500 calls a week from as far afield as Aylesbury, Nottingham, Derbyshire and East Lancashire. You can sign up for the conference here.

The homes that are signed up to the initiative are provided with a standard laptop that is equipped with a high definition camera.

Carers are given training and by clicking two buttons can log on and speak directly to a member of the clinical team at the Digital Care Hub.

The clinical team at the Hub are available 24/7 and will decide whether the patient needs to see a doctor, be taken to hospital or receive a home visit.

“The clinical teams can see patient records,” explained Ferrier, who is a trained occupational therapist.

“Ultimately the feedback from the patients themselves is very positive.

"Technology allows you to see more people and it gives the relatives peace of mind.”

A snap shot found the telemedicine service had reduced unplanned hospital admissions by 14 per cent and A&E attendances by five per cent. Around 30 per cent of calls to the Hub are dealt with by staff without any need for onward care

“We’re keeping people in their homes,” said Ferrier. “It’s about all working together. We’re quite a rural location so the technology is very important.”

The Hub also provides a palliative care service to 2,000 people with life-limiting conditions in their own home.