People with cancer are benefitting from pioneering technology that allows them to take part in appointments from the comfort of their own home.
The Telehealth Clinic, being used at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, has been piloted by a small group of lung cancer patients who are able to have an appointment with their specialist nurse via a video call.
Professor Michael Brada, Consultant in Clinical Oncology, helped to develop an IT system for use at the centre in Wirral.
Prof Brada said: “I have long been interested in making life easier for people who travel either short or long distances and then have to sit and wait in clinics, sometimes taking time off work or requiring their family to do so. This is a way of trying to make life easier for them.
“We want to deliver care that is close to patients and this is the ultimate way to do that.”
Sarah Cubbin, Macmillan Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, who uses the technology for appointments with patients, said: “There are strict guidelines for who is allowed to take part and we have been very careful to ensure suitability.
“It isn’t the right approach for everyone, some people actually want to attend face-to-face appointments. Others like the system as it allows them to keep in touch, ensure their needs are being met but they can avoid travel and possible waiting times.”
The format is the same as the traditional face-to-face consultation. Their condition is assessed, questions answered and a plan formulated to follow up on what is required. If the nurse is concerned about their appearance or any symptoms, they will refer them immediately to their nearest acute hospital or make an appointment for them at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
Patients are still required to attend the centre in Wirral, or one of its networked clinics, for scans and specialist clinic appointments with their consultant every three months.
If a prescription is required it is delivered by the Blood Bikes service which operates at the hospital. Security and confidentiality have been a big part of developing the system.
Terry Dickinson, from Fazakerley in Liverpool, has been having appointments via the Telehealth Clinic.
Terry, 66, who has lung cancer, said: “This is saving me time, effort and money on travelling expenses. I used to travel to Clatterbridge twice a month, now it is twice every three months.
“I have blood tests at hospital in Aintree which is local, the nurse has my results ready for the appointment and then my medication is delivered by the Blood Bikes. It is so easy. I was amazed on the very first call at how clear the picture was. I could have been in the same room at the nurse. This is definitely the way forward.”