26th September 2012
Digital healthcare project gives direct 24/7 link to Foula patients
People in Foula will shortly be able to benefit from hi-tec healthcare support, with the arrival of their new Health Clinic later this autumn.
A purpose-built Portakabin has been specially adapted in a joint project by NHS Shetland and Shetland Islands Council. Alongside a fully-equipped GP’s surgery it also includes the latest digital technology to allow remote assessment of a patient’s vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse, ECG/heart monitoring and digital imaging.
Medical services in Foula are delivered by a resident nurse with regular GP visits, and these will both continue. However, the Health Clinic will allow live videoconferenced consultations to be carried out by medical staff at the Walls surgery. This will be particularly useful in the event of an emergency, or when the weather makes it difficult for travel to and from the isle.
NHS Shetland’s Chief Executive Ralph Roberts says the Foula pilot, if successful, could be applied in other remote communities: “Digital technology is becoming an increasingly important – and valuable – means of supporting the delivery of care and healthcare services, and is particularly valuable in communities such as ours where access to services can be difficult. This means that we can provide live, one-to-one consultations with patients whenever necessary, with all the critical medical information to hand”.
Telecare and telehealthcare are quickly becoming a mainstream support to many health and social services, with a number of projects around Scotland already showing the benefits. Local professionals and members of the public are invited along to a special event at the beginning of October, to hear more from NHS officers and national representatives from some of the technology providers involved.