Child and Maternal Health
Best Start focus on: Using technology to bring care closer to home
Best Start Factsheet – Using technology to support care closer to home
What is it?
The Best Start recommends developing the use of technology within maternity services. The Scottish Government’s Realistic Medicine Strategy and the Clinical Strategy for Scotland also supports a move to delivering care closer to home. Previously this has relied on systems such as video conferencing that requires quite a lot of bandwidth. Attend Anywhere is a video call system that meets all the security and data protection requirements but that allows service users to have a virtual consultation from a location convenient to them.
In maternity services, this means that some women can speak to their consultant obstetrician without the need to travel to a hospital and have their midwife with them for the appointment. Midwives can share scan and test results with the obstetrician and both parties can access the notes.
As Attend Anywhere can also be used from phones or tablets, it has potential to bring together meetings around a family where participants are able to input without travel and most importantly the woman, midwife and partner can be in an environment that is familiar to them. This can be a local community hub or their own home.
Why are we doing it?
This approach has been adopted by NHS Highland initially where both women and consultants are faced with great distances between locations. However, this technology has the potential for use anywhere across Scotland, even in large cities. Often parking can be difficult at hospitals or women have child care responsibilities or have to use public transport which is often not straightforward. The use of technology means that they only have to travel to their local hub for an appointment with their midwife, or, indeed, the midwife can carry out the call from a woman’s house.
In the future, consultant obstetricians will be geographically linked with a team of caseload holding midwives. The use of technology will strengthen that relationship and allow the consultant to provide a high level of continuity, without the need to travel.
How are we doing it?
NHS Highland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are using this technology to provide consultant clinics in Campbeltown and Oban with the consultant obstetricians based in the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley. It is also being rolled out further north from Inverness to hubs in the north.
What have the results been?
The service has received excellent feedback from both staff and women. Women appreciate not having to travel long distances to unfamiliar hospital environments and like that they can have their midwife with them for appointment. Midwives like that they are able to support their women and provide even greater continuity. Unlike now, they are able to be part of the appointment and hear the plan of care for the woman they are caring for. Obstetricians no longer have to travel up to clinics in Argyll but feel they are able to have high quality consultations with women as the technology is so good that there is little difference to actually being in the room with the woman.
Hear what difference this had made for midwives, obstetricians and women