North West-based tech specialist Redmoor Health has landed a contract to help roll-out virtual group clinics across NHS Wales.
The virtual group clinics (VGCs) deliver care to groups of people with similar health needs, including diabetes, asthma, rheumatology and dermatology.
Preston firm Redmoor Health has won the contract to train up to 250 health organisations in using the technology so they can run the clinics across all areas of the NHS in Wales.
The company, which was founded by Marc Schmid in 2017, has previously run hundreds of training sessions in the primary service sector in England but Wales is the first country to roll it out across the whole health service.
Mr Schmid said: “This is a massive development for us as a company but, more importantly, it’s a hugely significantly step for NHS Wales.
“Covid-19 has accelerated tech adoption in healthcare with things like GP video consultations but virtual group clinics allow patients with long-term conditions to access care securely, safely and conveniently.
“The benefit of the VGC’s is clinicians can see up to 15 patients at a time remotely compared to the previous pre-Covid, face-to-face model, when they would see one at a time.
“Virtual group clinics have been shown to work in GP surgeries but the decision by NHS Wales is significant because it’s the first time it has been deployed across the whole service.”
Redmoor Health has partnered with face-to-face group clinic experts ELC and will work closely with TEC Cymru. All documents and animations will be translated into Welsh. The contract runs up until May 2021.
Mr Schmid said: “Technology has no boundaries. As well as working across England and Wales we’re now exploring other markets abroad and are in discussions with representatives in Australia.”
Redmoor currently employs 10 staff but is looking to recruit up to five more trainers.
To date, just under 11,000 GP consultations and almost 62,000 secondary and community care appointments have already taken place virtually in Wales.
Virtual group clinics form part of the Welsh Government’s pledge to bring care closer to home and will be rolled-out across primary, secondary and community care settings.
Each year, around 3.1m patients are seen at outpatient departments across Wales. The virtual group clinics will deliver care to groups of people with similar health needs.
Clinicians will run sessions for between 10-15 patients on a specific area of their care, allowing patients to learn from the experience of others and clinicians to interact with a number of patients at one time.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has already begun delivering therapy services virtually in a number of areas including dietetics, pulmonary rehabilitation and especially speech and language therapy.
Feedback has been positive from both patients and staff to the virtual approach, who have said the technology is easy to use.
Patients reported that the service avoided costs associated with taking time off from work and travelling to appointments.
Virtual group clinics will provide convenient access to support and advice for those who maybe self-isolating, have mobility issues or are housebound.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said: “During the pandemic, we have seen transformational changes and new ways of working to ensure the continuity of patient care from GPs, community health in the community and in hospital outpatient departments.
“Thousands of patients have already received excellent care via individual video consultations and we can now accelerate our plans for virtual group consultations.
“Wales is the first country to roll-out this way of working across all three parts of our NHS. Our virtual group clinics will lead the way and ensure that people in Wales will be able to access the benefits of medical care and support, whichever clinician they need to see, in whatever setting, from the convenience of their own home.
“Video group clinics will also help us ensure service continuity and resilience, and enable our dedicated healthcare professionals to deliver care and advice in a rewarding, safe and supportive way which provides long-term benefits to the NHS here in Wales.”nhs