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Virtual consultation concept awarded ps500k to support scale up Shutterstock
By setting up and evaluating a virtual consultation unit in an NHS setting with our clinical partners, we hope to learn more about how to overcome the logistical and regulatory challenges associated with their use. 
- Professor Trish Greenhalgh, Univeristy of Oxford

A team from Barts Health NHS Trust and Oxford University are being funded by the Health Foundation, an independent charity, to establish and evaluate a virtual consultation service that can be rolled-out to more widely across the NHS.

Virtual consultations have been shown to increase patient attendance rates, improve outcomes and provide more patient-centred care.

The team will deploy an expanded unit for outpatients virtual consultations within Barts Health NHS Trust that includes clinical, technical, managerial and administrative staff with expertise for delivering video consultations. By working with a network of NHS partners, the researchers also aim to understand how best to utilise virtual consultations on a larger scale and develop standardised policy and a suite of resources that can be adapted and shared across the NHS.

The project will include a training programme for other NHS staff who are interested in establishing their own virtual consultation units, this will include through quarterly “real-time” demonstrations, workshops and staff shadowing.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at University of Oxfords Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said “Remote video consultations are becoming increasingly more acceptable to support, and sometimes replace, face-to-face or telephone consultations. By setting up and evaluating a virtual consultation unit in an NHS setting with our clinical partners, we hope to learn more about how to overcome the logistical and regulatory challenges associated with their use. This will provide a balanced assessment of when, how and in what circumstances this model might be introduced in other healthcare settings.”

The project has received £471,000 in funding from the Health Foundation and will run for two and a half years. It is one of seven awards from the Health Foundation’s Scaling Up Improvement programme, which enables proven health care interventions and approaches to be scaled up regionally or nationally to support direct improvement to patient outcomes.

Dr Shanti Vijayaraghavan, diabetes and endocrinology consultant at Barts Health NHS Trust said: "We have pioneered the use of online consultations locally and this has shown to increase patient attendance rates, improve outcomes and provide more patient-centred care. Now, as a national network of sites we will work together to learn about using outpatient video consultations and develop standardised national level policy for the practice.”

Sarah Henderson, Associate Director from the Health Foundation said: “We are very excited to support seven outstanding project teams who have been selected because of their expertise in scaling complex improvement projects, and their ambition to achieve impact by improving care for patients.

Working together, as part of the Scaling Up programme, we aim to make sustained improvements to health care by testing out proven interventions at a scale. We hope to see the interventions being widely adopted across the UK.” 

Notes

Contact at the Health Foundation:

Sushma Sangyam, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, T: 020 7257 2092. E: sushma.sangyam@health.org.uk

Contact the University of Oxford:

Professor Trish Greenhalgh, trish.greenhalgh@phc.ox.ac.uk

About the Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

Our aim is a healthier population, supported by high quality health care that can be equitably accessed. We learn what works to make people’s lives healthier and improve the health care system. From giving grants to those working at the front line to carrying out research and policy analysis, we shine a light on how to make successful change happen.

We make links between the knowledge we gain from working with those delivering health and health care and our research and analysis. Our aspiration is to create a virtuous circle, using what we know works on the ground to inform effective policymaking and vice versa.

We believe good health and health care are key to a flourishing society. Through sharing what we learn, collaborating with others and building people’s skills and knowledge, we aim to make a difference and contribute to a healthier population.

www.health.org.uk

Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, with over 2,500 people involved in research and more than 2,800 students. The University is rated the best in the world for medicine and life sciences, and it is home to the UK’s top-ranked medical school. It has one of the largest clinical trial portfolios in the UK and great expertise in taking discoveries from the lab into the clinic. Partnerships with the local NHS Trusts enable patients to benefit from close links between medical research and healthcare delivery.

Within the division, the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences undertakes internationally acclaimed teaching and research that improves the primary care that GP practices deliver, and is ranked top in the UK. The department’s research covers a broad range of primary care issues including cardiovascular and metabolic disease, health behaviours, infectious disease and child health, patient experience, research methods and evidence-based medicine. www.phc.ox.ac.uk