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NHS Whittington Health: Daily audio conference call means patients return home happier and more swiftly

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Overview

BT MeetMe makes for better intermediate care co-ordination and helps optimise the use of hospital beds

After a stay in hospital most people are keen to return home as quickly as possible. However, before they can be safely released it’s vital the right support is in place. For example, does a district nurse need to visit, or is equipment or social care required?

Delivering the right support takes complex co-ordination. Delays to patient discharge occur when communication goes astray. At Whittington Health, Jar O’Brien was tasked with helping implement BT MeetMe audio conferencing to keep everyone on the right track.

Now clinicians are able to hold a daily conference call to discuss individual patients’ needs. Barriers to their discharge are quickly overcome. Patients are happier. And so is the Trust, given the savings being made.

Using BT MeetMe we have freed up 830 bed days over two years, improving the lives of 130 patients, and saving the Trust approximately £307,000.”
- Jar O’Brien, Islington Community Rehabilitation Services Team Lead, The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust

Challenge

The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust (Whittington Health) is responsible for delivering community health and social care services to clients living in the London Boroughs of Islington and Haringey. Within that, the multidisciplinary Islington Intermediate Care Services team collaborates to support mainly older people along with relatives and carers.

“An important aspect of our role is facilitating the discharge of people from hospital with the right levels of intermediate care in place,” explains Jar O’Brien, Islington Community Rehabilitation Services Team Lead. Much of the work is carried out in people’s homes or at day centres and residential nursing homes. It can involve anything from fitting handrails over the bath, to helping with walking, personal hygiene, and home cleaning.

Jar continues: “Putting the necessary support infrastructure in place involves the co-ordination of services from many different departments.” This had traditionally meant lots of emails, meetings, and telephone calls – not to mention follow-up if initial communications failed. The resulting complexity led to delays in discharging people from hospital, blocking hospital beds unnecessarily.

Solution

The potential of collaborative tools like BT MeetMe led to a trial to assess whether conferencing could improve communication and also reduce the need for travel. Jar says: “BT MeetMe looked a perfect way for us to collaborate better, to accelerate the delivery of essential services, and enable people to be discharged from hospital more quickly. There was nothing to set up; we started using it right away.”

BT MeetMe is a hosted audio conferencing service that only requires a fixed or mobile phone for access. It’s easy to use and available at any time, every day of the year. Prior booking is unnecessary and there are no fixed charges for the BT MeetMe service itself.

Value

The new approach for Whittington Health involves a daily conference call with each hospital and key stakeholders to discuss the needs of individuals approaching discharge and requiring intermediate care. “BT MeetMe has some really useful features,” adds Jar. “I use the participant count and roll call facility, and I have the ability to lock the call for security so that nobody else can join. As chairman, I can also end the call when I hang up. That cuts down idle chat after business has been concluded.”

A key performance indicator for Whittington Health is the number of additional days patients stay in hospital because discharge arrangements are not in place. “BT Meet Me made an immediate impact,” says Jar. “From historically being way off target, in the first two months of using the service we consistently beat the benchmark, lowering delayed transfers from a running total of around 15 at any one time to just four.”

Whittington Health uses BT MeetMe to review the needs of typically around 25 patients each day. Jar confirms: “Using BT MeetMe we have freed up 830 bed days over two years, improving the lives of 130 patients, and saving the Trust approximately £307,000. The only costs are around £250 each month for the BT MeetMe calls, and the administration to record the decisions made. I’d say that’s excellent value for money.”

From being one of the worst performing NHS trusts in London for delayed patient discharge, Whittington Health is now the fourth best. “Team members now have a much better appreciation of each other’s roles,” concludes Jar, “and that’s helped us all to work collaboratively, resolve issues, and speed up patient discharge from hospital. BT MeetMe is definitely helping us to get patients back into the community more quickly and that’s good for them and good for the NHS.”

Following the success of the trial, Whittington Health increased its BT MeetMe accounts to a total of 16 and extended its use to include the Trust CEO and the senior management team. This is helping improve general business efficiency and reduce travel, supporting a more sustainable business model.

Core Services

  • BT MeetMe – part of the BT One Collaborate portfolio

Resources

Case study