Doctors in the UK are trialling a new type of service; via Internet video conferencing service Skype, to save patients the trouble of leaving their home to attend appointments.  Huddersfield doctors are contacting children and young people with epilepsy who are among the first to be offered follow-up appointments via the video-link.

Dr Sal Uk, a Paediatrician, gives his patients the choice whether or not to have alternate clinic appointments via Skype, to his clinic room at Calderdale Royal Hospital.  These types of Skype consultations last for 20 minutes, which is the same as a hospital appointment.

Video Calling Dr

One such a person, who has opted to have their consultation via Skype, is 17-year-old Leila Mehrdadi.  She says that by taking part in this service, it saves more than an hour of travelling from Brockholes to Halifax return journey. Leila’s mother Belinda, who attends the consultation with her daughter, said: “The sessions are informal and chatty and we cover all areas of Leila’s condition with Dr Uka without the drive to hospital.  “We love the technology as we get the healthcare support and advice we need.”

Dr Uka said: “This is a really exciting step in using technology to improve the services we offer here at the hospital to suit the changing needs of our patients…This means that our patients and their families can have their follow-up consultations with me via a video call at their computer, laptop or tablet instead of journeying to and from a hospital appointment…This is proving to be popular with our patients and their families who have tried it.”

The so-called ‘telemedicine’ service is the Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust’s second undertaking into web conferencing.  Last year it launched a 24/7-telemedicine service, which linked hospital doctors and nurses to patients and staff in care homes throughout the Calderdale and Kirklees areas.

What do you think? Is this a strong use of video conferencing? Or is it just a gimmick to justify resources?  As always, if you would like to leave a sensible comment, then please do so in the comments section below.

[Image via eir-c316.blogspot]