Poole Hospital fracture patients are to benefit from fewer hospital visits and shorter waiting times with a new ‘virtual’ fracture clinic.
The scheme, the first in Dorset, provides an alternative to conventional fracture clinics and aims to improve patient experience and reduce waiting times by ensuring only those who need an appointment are given one in a timely manner.
Previously, all patients seen at the trust’s emergency department (ED) with a suspected fracture would have been referred to the hospital fracture clinic. But, often a face-to-face appointment is not needed as injuries heal.
Now, ED patients have their injury immobilised in a splint or boot and those who require orthopaedic review are booked onto a virtual fracture clinic rather than automatically attending a traditional one.
X-rays and patient notes are reviewed ‘virtually’ by an orthopaedic consultant and specialist physiotherapists who decide the best course of ongoing treatment, which could be a specialist fracture clinic appointment with a surgeon, a referral to physiotherapy, discharge to GP or even arrange an urgent admission in serious cases.
During the first month of the new arrangements the hospital has reduced new outpatients appointments for fracture patients by 40%.
Miss Nikki Kelsall, consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, said: “We designed this service around our patients to ensure they were only attending hospital when absolutely necessary and when they do come they are seeing the right person the first time.
“We hope this new service will help us assess patients much sooner than was previously possible, as well as reduce the number of missed fracture appointments.
As well as improving patient satisfaction and care quality, the trust is also hoping the clinic style will contribute to its paperless strategy, as discharged patients are followed up with advice and rehabilitation guidance by phone and email rather than paper letters where appropriate. Poole Hospital selected Bluespier software to support the new model.
Stuart van Rooyen, managing director of Bluespier, said: “Virtual clinics are a shining example of how simple use of technology can make real-life changes to patient care almost immediately.
“We are delighted with the success of this project at Poole and grateful for the clinical and IT teams for driving it with such vision and diligence.”
Mark Mould, Poole Hospital’s deputy chief executive, added: “The project has led to a more simplified process for both our patients and staff and will provide significant benefits for our patients for years to come.”
Image: (L-R) Paula Reynolds, Nikki Kelsall, Kate Wallis and Simon Richards from the hospital’s virtual fracture clinic team