ADOPTED: Optimising Outpatients: Effective service transformation through face-to-face, remote and digital care delivery.
Principal Investigator: Professor Chris Kipps, Consultant Neurologist at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Team: Dr Sarah Fearn, Senior Research Fellow, University of Southampton
The number of people living with a neurological condition is increasing, placing ever greater demand on existing services. The NHS Long Term Plan outlines a need for new service models to optimise care. Remote and digital technologies, aimed at improving efficiency and service delivery, can promote a more personalised approach to outpatient care, with a key outcome being a reduction of unnecessary appointments.
‘Remote care’ provides synchronous communication between the patient and the healthcare professional (HCP) across different locations. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the uptake of remote care with a rapid shift in appointments performed via phone or video-call.
‘Digital care’ provides technology-enabled asynchronous communication between the patient and their care team (e.g. messaging) where contact with an HCP is not required in real time. UHS has been a leader in developing digital care through the My Medical Record care platform that provides a unique digital tool connecting patients to their care team.
Both remote and digital care provide cost effective, implementable opportunities to transform outpatient services in neurology and for other long-term conditions. Yet little is known about the most effective ways to combine the standard face-to-face appointment with remote and digital technologies to provide effective, efficient, high quality outpatient care. There has been some research into the advantages, disadvantages, barriers and enablers of remote care during the pandemic for people with neurological conditions (Nakornchai et al. 2021), with a growing body of work into digital healthcare and the moderating factors of its use and success within this population (Moccia et al. 2018). However, in a post-pandemic environment, we need to shift the focus from separate analyses of remote and digital care onto how best to combine face-to-face, remote and digital care to better serve patient needs and realise the ambitions of the Long Term Plan.