15 specialist doctors will use video conferencing to assess out-of-hours patients
Fibre optic network provider Virgin Media Business has rolled out a new video conferencing service for specialist doctors, aimed to benefit patients across Lancashire and Cumbria.
The new service is designed to transform the diagnosis process for patients showing signs of an acute stroke. The company said that by using its new high-speed, fibre optic network, 15 specialist doctors will now use video conferencing to assess out-of-hours patients directly from their homes via a secure router.
Virgin Media Business said that the project will include the delivery of a private IP VPN. It will connect doctors with core infrastructure supporting High Definition (HD) video and audio including a hosted VC Gatekeeper, directory service, HD multi-conference bridge and recording appliances, said the company.
It is estimated that over 4,000 people suffer a stroke in Cumbria and Lancashire each year. The project, which is expected to save the NHS over £8m a year, will give patients much faster access to out-of-hours care across Lancashire and Cumbria, said Virgin Media Business.
The company said that from each router, the doctor will link up with a live video and audio conference system, where they can see and speak to the patient in the hospital. They will also have access to an Image Exchange Portal, where they can view the patient’s CT scan and medical records.
The company added that a portable video conferencing tool called a Telecart will be positioned at the patient’s bedside in A&E or in some cases, the stroke unit.
Virgin Media Business has worked in partnership with infrastructure and security specialist Imerja to develop the bespoke service.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and Lead Stroke Clinician for the Telestroke Network Consultant Stroke Physician Dr Paul Davies said for some patients who have a stroke, treatment with a clot busting agent, called Thrombolysis, can be very effective and can lead to reduced levels of disability.
He continued, "Thrombolysis treatment can only be given to patients within 4.5 hours of the onset of their stroke so time is core to this treatment and Telestroke will help improve the speed of patient diagnosis. We are using technology to take the stroke specialists to the patient, rather than moving the patient long distances, around rural areas, to where the specialists work. In an acute stroke, time is of the essence and the sooner treatment can be provided, the better."
Virgin Media Business managing director Mark Heraghty said technology is right at the heart of how healthcare is delivered.
"We have created this service specifically to help Lancashire and Cumbria meet one of its most significant medical challenges head on. It’s a great example of where technology can deliver value – both for patients and healthcare organisations struggling with resourcing. Not only is it helping to solve an existing problem now, this new network will support how healthcare is provisioned in the future – a truly exciting prospect," Heraghty said.
The new service will cover eight hospital sites in Lancashire and Cumbria: Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle; West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven; Furness General Hospital, Barrow; Royal Lancaster Infirmary; Blackpool Victoria Hospital; Royal Preston Hospital; Royal Blackburn Hospital and Southport General Hospital.