Since 2013, private doctors and nurses in Compiègne, France, have been using tablets to save patients hospital visits and improve efficiency – a remote medicine solution that could revolutionise hospital organisations…
How can doctors save time by avoiding those minor consultations which could in fact be handled remotely? This is the very question that healthcare professionals in Picardy in the north of France asked themselves in 2013 when they set up an experimental remote consultation programme for dermatology patients.
As explained on nursing website Infirmer.com: “With touch tablets, the district nurses – who make house visits to patients – can take pictures of a leg ulcer, for example, and ask a specialist doctor at the hospital for a second opinion, which saves the patient a trip to the hospital, and allows the nurse to change the treatment accordingly.”
Digital : pushing back hospital walls
Thanks to this equipment, healthcare professionals can communicate more easily and work together, even remotely. But Franck Perez, Vice President of the regional union of private nurses, believes that the advantages go far beyond this:
“It’s a technical tool that enables us to save time. It also gives us access to expertise as we’re always in contact with the doctor. […] And it’s reassuring for patients: they’re always open to the idea,” said Perez to Infirmer.com.
This inevitable profoundly changes the whole hospital structure healthcare visitors are more versatile; hospital staff, meanwhile, can act more quickly whilst being able to spend more time on their serious on-site cases:
“It does involve an organisational rethinking,” says Lidye Canipel, secretary of France’s National Telemedicine Association, but stresses that it’s about “transferring skills, not delegating tasks.”
For when patients are treated at home, the health visitors can receive remote assistance from an expert if needed. The advantage of this system is that “the doctor can become more of an expert and less a fixer of cuts and scrapes.”
Telemedecine : when will all hospitals take the plunge ?
In 2013, there were 331 telemedicine systems at French hospitals – surprisingly few given the advantages this has in terms of reducing congestion and increasing efficiency in hospitals.
Supplying nurses with tablets and doctors with videoconferencing tools can also help improve cooperation between the various healthcare professionals. Not to mention the benefits for patients: better care and better monitoring. So with better coordination between healthcare professionals via effective digital tools, nurses can act as “a coordinator between the GP and the medical consultant at the hospital.”
If medicine is to move with the times, in the interest of both patients and medical staff, hospitals need the very best equipment and active involvement from everyone concerned.
Photo credits: NEC-Medical-51, Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license