Service Development and Improvement
Minimum wait targets and shrinking resources put increased pressure on outpatient services. Tallaght University Hospital (Mr. Paul Ridgway, Consultant Upper GI, Pancreas and Hepatobilary surgeon and Una Hayden, Upper GI Co-ordinator) have developed a nurse led Virtual Reality Outpatients, the first of its kind in Ireland. Using Skype calls and web cam technology, many patients can now be followed up in a Virtual reality outpatient clinic. Patients eligible for our VR OPD are selected return general surgical patients who require minimal examination (inspection sufficing) and where histology or radiology reports require discussion with the patient.
Skype is a software application that allows real time visual and audio patient assessment over the internet. Furthermore, Skype is secure, easily downloaded from the internet and completely free (www.skype.com). All the patient needs to have to avail of this service is a broadband connection and a webcam.
Initial feedback has been very good. Patient satisfaction (survey monkey™) is as good with VR OPD and the programme has face validity. Furthermore, there were significant cost savings for both the patient and the hospital when compared to traditional OPD method. Patients attending our Virtual reality outpatients have the options of out of office hours appointment times eliminating the need for time off work to attend appointments and there are no travel costs or long waiting times in clinic