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Highland Life / News / NHS Highland / Video link saves patients and doctors time

Video link saves patients and doctors time

Issued: 12 Jun 2008

Raigmore Hospital based Consultant Surgeon Mr Leo McClymont has taken part in the first Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) endoscopy clinic via tele-link with patients on the Western Isles.

The Scottish Centre for Telehealth (SCT) is supporting health boards across NHS Scotland to redesign and improve patient access to healthcare no matter where they live. The project between Raigmore Hospital and the Western Isles Hospital has been set up with a view to continuing this as a sustainable service for the local population.

This is the second phase of a pilot project that uses diagnostic technology remotely to facilitate the examination of a patient's upper airway. The project involves examining selected patients; primarily those referred with voice disorders, throat disorders and swallowing difficulty, in the Outpatient Department at the Western Isles Hospital - while videolinking to the ENT Department at Raigmore. The Consultant at Raigmore is able to talk to the patient and also view the images, enabling him to make a diagnosis and plan further medical intervention if necessary. The first patients were seen via videolink on Wednesday by Raigmore consultant Mr Leo McClymont. The clinic was supported by the IT department at Western Isles Hospital.

The Speech and Language Therapist in Western Isles Hospital, Lesley Russell, carries out the scoping procedure and is also involved in therapeutic intervention with most of the patients scoped. For around 50 per cent of people with voice disorders, voice therapy is the main form of treatment and this can commence on the day of the examination.

Raigmore consultant Mr Leo McClymont stated: "We are pleased to have completed our first live clinic successfully - it worked very well. I was happy with the way it went and the patients also seemed happy. This development means that patients in the Western Isles can be seen quickly without having to travel. I look forward to doing further consultations in this way. It is hoped that this project will pave the way for other clinics in other parts of Highland reducing the need for patients or consultants to travel. This could allow us to increase the amount of time we have to see patients."

Further benefits are that it will enable early diagnosis of serious conditions, consultant travel time and costs to Stornoway will be reduced, and access to specialist ENT education for local healthcare staff will be improved.

In ENT, endoscopy is now a key diagnostic tool and ENT Consultants are reporting increasing patient referrals for assessment.

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme