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Virtual clinic app underway at St Bartholomew’s Hospital

A new app being trialled at St Bartholomew’s Hospital has slashed missed appointments by providing virtual advice for heart and cancer patients.

Ortus-iHealth is a new app that helps patients and their clinicians, where appropriate, to connect through virtual appointments by computer or mobile phone, rather than face-to-face. It aims to make it easier for patients to take control of their health while reducing NHS costs and the number of appointments that go unattended.

Two pilots are underway simultaneously at St Bartholomew’s Hospital – one with cancer patients, and the other with patients who have undergone treatment to control or correct abnormal heart rhythms. 

Usually, approximately 12% of these appointments go unattended. However, all scheduled appointments using the app have been attended across both pilots (19 cardiology patients and 22 cancer patients).* This includes some patients who had forgotten about their hospital appointments but fortunately were able to be converted to virtual clinic patients and in turn still show as having attended their appointments. 

Dr Debashish Das, creator of Ortus-iHealth and registrar at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, said: “I created the app to modernise the way we communicate with our patients, as well as empower patients to take control of their health and consultations. The portal is very user friendly and simple to use, which we hope will encourage more clinicians and patients to adopt this way of working in the future.”

The app’s video capability allows clinicians to conduct appointments with patients via video link, avoiding the need for patients to spend time and money travelling to and from the hospital for an appointment that doesn’t need to be conducted in person. The app has lots of other features, which provide a wide range of benefits.

Appointments are booked and scheduled on the app. Patients have the control to cancel and re-schedule their appointments as needed – helping improve NHS efficiencies.

Patients get sent appointment reminders via the app and a clinician-approved questionnaire ahead of each appointment. Patients also upload their key vital signs, such as blood pressure and weight. This enables the clinician to review the patient’s information, vital signs and symptoms ahead of time, helping to focus the appointment and tailor therapies. 

The app also enables patients to record symptoms they are experiencing. By inputting their symptoms, clinicians are able to track changes and tailor care accordingly.

Following their appointment, patients also receive a clinical letter summarising their appointment immediately via the app, avoiding the need for paper letters to be sent out. 

The app also collates, tracks and monitors patient outcomes, which could help NHS organisations identify and evaluate trends to provide patients with the most effective care.

The Trust will continue to evaluate the use of Ortus-iHealth over the coming months to determine its long-term impact on patient outcomes. 

Last year, Barts Health NHS Trust has also received national funding to scale up the use of virtual consultations using Skype across the NHS following particular success in our outpatients clinics. It is encouraging and exciting to see even more innovative projects such as this being created and piloted in new areas.