Wednesday, 23 October 2013

New Kilchoan Telehealth Facility

We walked down this afternoon to the Kilchoan Learning Centre to attend a demonstration by the Scottish Ambulance Service of their new telehealth facility.  A room has been created in one area of the Learning Centre, and this houses a consultation couch and a high-resolution monitor with camera (the silver tubular thing in the picture).

A patient can now be brought in by the Emergency Responders, who can connect to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where a doctor or consultant, with the assistance of the ER, can carry out an examination.

This won't make any difference in many 999 emergencies, where the Strontian ambulance and/or the medivac helicopter will be called, but the ERs can also be used by NHS24, for example if a patient has a rash which needs to be examined.  Currently, the system will not be used for children.  It has a proven track record - it's how medical emergencies are dealt with on North Sea oil rigs.

There is huge potential for other uses, by local GPs on the days when they are not coming down to Kilchoan, and by consultants in places like Glasgow who want to 'see' a patient, but really don't need them to travel all the way down to their hospital.  For such things to happen, the SAS and NHS Highland will need to work together.

While we were there, we filled out two questionnaires, one about about the success of the Emergency Responder trial, the other about the telehealth facility.  These surveys are being conducted independently of the SAS by an official from NHS24.

We walked home through an October afternoon which reminded us that winter is on its way, and that there will be times when West Ardnamurchan may be cut off from the rest of the world.  The idea that this system will bring a doctor or consultant in to the heart of the community seemed reassuring.

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