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NHS Near Me service gains international recognition

By Staff Reporter- NOSN

NHS Highland’s innovative video consulting service Near Me – which began as a pilot project in Caithness – has been recognised by an international healthcare organisation.

The service will next month receive the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Lucian Leape Institute Medtronic Safety Culture and Technology Innovator Award for improving patient safety through the successful implementation of technology and culture change.

Near Me provides outpatient consultations either at a patient’s home or at a local NHS Highland clinic and has been rolled out across the health board area over the past year.

NHS Highland’s NHS Near Me lead, Clare Morrison, said: “This work aims to reduce the impact of travel on patient care and improve equity of access to services by enabling patients to attend video appointments from their homes or from a local clinic.

“We are absolutely delighted for our work to be recognised internationally by the IHI which is a world leader in healthcare improvement. We started this work as a small pilot in Caithness, which was then turned into a Highland-wide service.

Clare Morrison, NHS Highland’s NHS Near Me lead.
Clare Morrison, NHS Highland’s NHS Near Me lead.

“Earlier this year, we hosted visits from other NHS organisations wanting to learn about how we are delivering NHS Near Me and our processes have been shared across the UK. To now receive international recognition for this work is amazing.

“However, we still have a long way to go to fully scale this up. We have the infrastructure in place for NHS Near Me across the Highlands so patients anywhere can have a video consultation from home. We now need all of our clinical services to use NHS Near Me whenever it is clinically appropriate, so that patients are only asked to travel if it is necessary.

"This is about delivering person-centred care, as well as maximising the environmental benefit.”

To date, NHS Near Me has provided 2700 video consultations across 31 clinical specialties, which at the current level of usage is saving an estimated 350,000 travel miles a year for patients and clinicians across Highland.

The IHI’s chief clinical and safety officer, Tejal K Gandhi, said: “We know that inequitable access to care is a patient safety concern. Through this programme, the NHS Highland team have successfully harnessed technology to improve not only operational efficiency but also the overall quality and safety of care for their patients.”

The vice-president and general manager of minimally invasive therapies group Medtronic, Frank Chan, said: “We congratulate the NHS Near Me team for their dedication to their patients, their creative use of telehealth technology, and their recognition of how change affects all parties involved – from patients to clinicians to non-clinical staff.

“This work truly embodies the spirit of the Safety Culture and Technology Innovator Award.”

The award will be presented to NHS Highland at the 2019 IHI National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care being held on December 8 in Florida, USA.

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