How virtual group consultations are improving patient care

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The Tyneside Integrated Musculoskeletal Service (TIMS), a partnership between Gateshead and Newcastle NHS Trusts, has introduced virtual group consultations to help improve patient care.

Background

TIMS provides self-care and access to advice, diagnosis and treatment for a variety of muscle, joint and soft tissue conditions and chronic pain. The service sought to introduce virtual group sessions as a more effective way of managing patients who present with a similar problem and require the same information. This is a new concept in the UK and is designed to both improve patient care and help with workforce pressures.

Opportunity for improvement

The team sought to provide patients with faster access to improved and appropriate care for lower limb tendinopathies. These are patients who have issues with their tendons (which are a soft tissue which attach your muscle to your bone) in their lower limbs.

Using a quality improvement approach, TIMS introduced group virtual sessions. By seeing more patients together in this way, waiting times are reduced as clinicians can see patients sooner.

This change has also seen the following benefits:

  • Virtual sessions mean that patients have no travel costs. There is also less time wasted in travel, so less time away from work or leisure activities
  • Patients can seek support from others who have a similar problem
  • More time is spent with the health professional than from a 121
  • By not repeating the same information, staff satisfaction improves

Changes made:

The team introduced a number of changes to ensure the virtual group sessions could take place, they included:

  • Staff underwent training on delivering group consultations
  • Identified which patient group would be suitable for this type of consultation
  • Introduced a process of how patients would be brought into the group
  • A suitable platform was identified (Teams)
  • Content for the sessions was agreed

Feedback and next steps

Patients are now accessing virtual group consultations and the team continue to review and refine the process. Two audits have already taken place and the consultations will be reviewed regularly.

Initial results have shown that after five weeks since their consultation, patients are improving.

The team also carried out a questionnaire which showed:

  • How do you rate group consultation –7.7 (out of 10)
  • Do you feel able to understand your condition – 8.6 (out of 10)
  • Able to manage your condition – 9 (out of 10)

Comments from the questionnaire have also included:

“I liked the idea of sharing my experience with others in the group with similar issues and learning from listening to the clinician advising others in the group.”

“Well organised session, had plenty of time to speak to clinician. I felt I was listened to and was given appropriate advice and further referral onwards.”

For more information on making an improvement in your area, please email nuth.newcastleimprovement@nhs.net