Going the distance

Connecting patients and clinicians through video consulting technology could help more patients in remote communities receive the care they need

woman on laptop

“It makes a massive difference to people not having to spend their whole day just hanging around waiting for a plane, waiting for a bus, waiting for a taxi, waiting for a consultant.”

In Elizabeth Fowler’s view, this is a key benefit of Attend Anywhere, a video consultation platform that connects 100,000 patients with clinicians across the NHS annually.

Ms Fowler is the technology enabled care project officer for NHS Western Isles.

She told me how Attend Anywhere has helped a crofter in his 80s. He previously had to leave his home at 3am so he could make a flight to the mainland for medical care. Now he can be seen by video link in Stornoway and is home for lunch.

“He thinks it is absolutely amazing. He is back at home seeing to his sheep,” Ms Fowler shared.

There is much talk of how our reliance on screens risks producing a generation who have forgotten the art of small talk.

But my conversation with Ms Fowler is a reminder that digital technology is a powerful tool for reducing the distance between people.

Working from New Zealand for a London-based journal, the same technology that has reduced waiting lists and cut patient travel time transports me to Ms Fowler’s office in the Western Isles by the click of a mouse.

From ‘internet connection’ to ‘world wide web,’ even the words we use to describe the technology speak to its unifying power.

Care for all is a theme we explore in our January edition, exploring new approaches to extending eye care’s reach.

As always, you are welcome to join the conversation on any of the themes covered in the journal by emailing me.  

Image credit: Getty/jacoblund 

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