Kettering General connects patients with NHS Book a virtual visit

Digital service from Made Tech provides video visit lifeline to patients and loved ones

  • Originally developed by Made Tech for Sonia Patel, then the joint CIO for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust and Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust, in 48 hours at the peak of Covid-19
  • NHS Book a virtual visit has now facilitated over 8000 video calls across 6 hospitals, over 50 wards with call times averaging over an hour a visit, demonstrating the critical nature of the service

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is now offering its patients and their loved ones access to NHS Book a virtual visit. The digital service developed by Made Tech allows patients and visitors to connect when they are unable to be together physically due to Covid-19 restrictions in hospitals.

In Kettering General Hospital alone, NHS Book a virtual visit has now facilitated over 900 visits, across 25 wards, averaging calls of 50 minutes between patients and loved ones, since its implementation in July. This includes the Emergency Department, where NHS Book a virtual visit is now facilitating communication in short stay wards, where patients might not have access to their own communication device.

Created within the principles of open source and to GDS and NHS Digital standards, the easy to use digital service allows ward staff to quickly and safely schedule calls between a patient and a loved one wherever in the world they might be, with minimal data needed to support the call. Hosted in the cloud, the scalable, secure and OS agnostic digital service does not require users to install any third-party applications, can be accessed via any website browser, and works across any device, ensuring patient inclusion.

Talking about the service, Ian Roddis, Deputy Chief Digital and Information Officer at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “Meeting our patients needs goes beyond physical treatment. As a Trust we are wholly committed to being patient-centric. While the pressures of this year have been extremely challenging, we never lost sight of the importance of keeping our patients connected to their loved ones when physical visits had to end. Prior to NHS Book a virtual visit we’d been using a commercial product that had information governance and safeguarding issues. The Made Tech digital service meets our rapidly evolving user needs, in an open, safe and interoperable way.”

The implementation of Book a virtual visit in Kettering General follows the July announcement from Made Tech that it had developed the alpha of the digital service in 48 hours for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH) following a call from its then CIO, Sonia Patel, on Twitter. The digital service has now been adopted by four trusts including Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust, St Marks Hospital London and now Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, connecting thousands of patients to loved ones all over the world and reaching over 8000 virtual visits made since the start of the pandemic.

Since its development for LNWH, Kettering has further developed the digital service in line with its user needs to include immediate rebooking and reoccurring visits. This ensures that all patients receive equal opportunity to keep in touch with loved ones as Anna Awoliyi, Chief Allied Health Information Officer at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust explains: “You cannot underestimate the positive impact seeing a loved one’s face has on the emotional wellbeing of patient, a holistic approach is paramount in healing. Offering courtesy visits and the rebook feature to patients as soon as they arrive allows us to be inclusive and ensure everyone has access to regular virtual visits.

“But this is not just a pandemic solution. Virtual visiting goes beyond our current climate, it connects patients seamlessly to loved ones anywhere in the world. NHS Book a virtual visit also enables visits where a lack of affordability in terms of travel, or mobility is an issue. This is a long-term solution that we will continue to work with Made Tech to develop to fit the needs of our patients and staff.”

Luke Morton, CTO at Made Tech said: “We are thrilled that Kettering General has adopted NHS Book a virtual visit. It’s been great to see its use growing rapidly across hospitals and trusts so that today thousands of families have been able to keep in contact. With the support of NHSX and NHS Digital we hope that trusts continue to innovate, focusing on developing open source digital services whose benefit can be felt across Trusts, and Integrated Care Systems for the benefit of patients.”

NHS Book a virtual visit will now be rolled out to Northampton General Hospital as part of the two acute trusts continued partnership to deliver high-quality, coordinated care for the whole of Northamptonshire.

Trusts that are keen to access the service should contact [email protected] for a demonstration or more information.