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Birmingham to start A&E online chat service in a technology revolution for NHS care | Society

Millions of patients are being urged to use digital technology to assess their ill health under an innovative initiative by a leading NHS hospital, as part of a drive to reduce the use of accident and emergency appointments and outpatients.

A revolution in the embracing of NHS technology will mean that patients in Birmingham will be advised to use online chat services – live and automated, online symptom checkers and video consultations with doctors and nurses to help relieve; r the “unsustainable” pressure on services.

University Hospitals The Birmingham trust (BIP) has decided to push through radical changes that we hope will transform how hundreds of thousands of patients a year receive NHS care and treatment.

Under their plans, people looking to seek help in the Accident and Emergency Department will be encouraged instead to do a two-minute online check of their symptoms before they go to; hospital. The “artificial intelligence triage” will then tell them whether or not they need to seek treatment.

Patients will also be able to talk to their consultant using their smartphone at home or at work and will not have to go to a hospital's own appointment for an outpatient appointment. Consultations carried out in this way would be more convenient for many patients, but would mean that they no longer have a physical assessment of their health.

“It will not be possible to identify how patients receive healthcare in Birmingham and receive it in five to 10 years time, with technology playing an extremely extended role,” said Dr David Rosser, chief executive of the trust. “This is the first case of such technology being used on such a scale to assist the hospital sector.

“We believe that we can get 70% of our 2 million outpatient appointments to this way of doing things within two to three years.” At the departure of 70 years of previous NHS care, patients would be t 39 'n choosing that option in the future are completely managed in the future. online and not physically assessed.

The trust is also hoping to ease the pressure on the accident and emergency units in the four acute hospitals that we run in Birmingham by persuading the 30% of people that we have. They were seen as “avoidable attendances” because they had minor ailments to use the symptom checker instead. It is branded as “A&E Online” or “BIP Online”.

Patients using the new ways of engaging with the NHS would avoid long queues in the Accident and Emergency Department, or be assured that they don't need any medical attention on them. In all, or advised to see a GP or pharmacist instead, Rosser added.

“If you can get your consultation as an outpatient through a device of your choice in your choice – at home or at work – then you don't have to take time off from work and come to & # 39 hospital.

“In the virtual clinics; we are already running for people with younger problems, there is a video link where you see the doctor's face on half the screen and the other half of the screen shows your letters or the results of your scan, for example, ”he said.

The UHB is planning a “huge expansion” of clinics of this kind, eventually covering all medical specialties.

Pollsters conducted Ipsos Mori for the Health Foundation, quoted in the recent NHS long-term plan, that around two-thirds of the public across all age groups were happy to have a video consultation with them. a GP themselves rather than a face to face appointment.

Expanding online interaction with the NHS is likely to raise fears that the loss of face-to-face contact with health professionals could compromise patient safety.

The plan will also stimulate debate about the privatization of NHS care as the trust plans to implement the changes in conjunction with private company, Babylon Health. He has been accused of undermining the NHS by attracting patients to give their best to use their usual GP practice and instead switching to his GP at Hand service, which he based on remote consultations. When patients join them, their GP surgery stops receiving annual NHS payments for their care, which GP groups have warned threaten the future of general practice.

More than 50,000 patients in London have already registered to receive their GP care through GP At Hand, and NHS England has also given permission for them to start operating in Birmingham. It is estimated that 85% -90% of patients with this consultation are not going to have a face to face appointment with a GP, even though they have a surgery where patients can do so.

The UHB will use modified versions of current GP At Hand technology to help manage the increasing number of patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart problems.

“The collaboration between the UHB and Babylon will help outpatients, primary care and emergency care to go digital, supporting people across Birmingham and beyond to manage their own health and avoid difficulties. unnecessary travel, costs and carbon footprint. or a GP surgery, ”said Paul Bate, managing director of Babylon for NHS services. Bate has been a civil servant in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office specializing in health policy under the alliances of David Cameron and Tony Blair.

A briefing paper on the UHB's plans approved by its governing board on Wednesday states that it is forming a “collaboration” with Babylon to help “transform the healthcare model using technology to manage; demand ”. Their conversations about “potential areas of collaboration” have focused on three areas:

virtual outpatient consultations and chronic disease management

pre-hospital triage for unscheduled care

referral pathways from GP services at Hand to BIP services and vice versa.

The Health Board's attempt to reconfigure the NHS's relationship with patients will be studied closely by other trusts considering how to deal with the growing load they are causing from the growing population. and aging.

It will be a delight for Matt Hancock, the health secretary, who is a keen advocate of using digital technology to make care faster and more convenient for patients and also improve the diagnosis of illness while reducing 39 burden on NHS staff.

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