Improving access by introducing telepsychiatry

Secondary Care | Support Services

Why?

Staff at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust appreciated that many patients with mental illness would benefit from improved access to a specialist opinion.

Who and where?

The pilot took place in a community mental health team in Chorley, part of Lancashire Care Foundation Trust. The project leads were Dr Arokia Antonysamy and Dr Tarun Khanna.

What?

The Trust introduced interactive videoconferencing to enable patients and psychiatrists to communicate in real time.

How?

The change was discussed in the local team and with service users, and tested on a small scale with service users. Data from the tests was shared at team meetings. Gradually, concerns were addressed as the change was extended to more service users. IT specialists provided support and reassured staff members, initially uncomfortable with the technology.

Our success

Service users reported that the model reduced the anxiety, stigma, time and cost associated with attending clinic reviews. The project increased efficiency, as three telepsychiatry reviews can be completed in the same time as one home visit. Non-attendance rates were reduced and overall there was better quality patient care.

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