Newham health offers diabetics appointments at home

Diabetics in east London should find it easier to manage their condition with the launch of appointments via webcam.

Newham University Hospital, which is part of Barts Health NHS Trust, is offering them routine appointments by web-cam.

The findings of a one year pilot study by the diabetes team at Newham University Hospital have shown that the routine appointments via webcam, provide a more flexible and convenient way for patients to manage their condition and has shown better health outcomes due to better diabetes self-management.

A spokeswoman for the Trust said there are significant pressures on health services in Newham because the prevalence of diabetes in the borough is estimated to be around four to six times the national average and much higher than the London average. The webcam appointment approach could result in cost savings so that scarce resources can be redirected to more complex needs.

Shanti Vijayraghavan, DAWN’s clinical lead and consultant endocrinologist, said: “Finding innovative ways to meet the challenge posed by the high prevalence of diabetes in Newham has been a priority for the diabetes team, who were one of 14 national teams selected by Health Foundation in March 2011 to take part in Shine’s pilot programme.

“All patients who attended follow up appointments with one consultant and one specialist nurse were offered consultations via webcam. Of the 179 patients with diabetes who were identified to take part in the project, 143 were deemed suitable and 89 wanted to get involved. Many homes have a broadband connection, because of their family ties abroad, so the simple technology needed was not a problem.

“We found patients liked the convenience this offered, and the clinic non-attendance rates improved. Most patients were happy with the quality of online consultations and were keen to continue with this. We now hope to increase the number of online consultations offered and work with patients to explore the impact these have on their self-management skills.”