New telehealth service launched for Western Isles patients

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TELEHEALTH links with the Western Isles saw a first for Scotland recently when the first neuropsychology clinic by videolink took place between Stornoway and Glasgow.

Dr Susan Copstick, Clinical Lead for Neuropsychology, from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Institute of Neuroscience, delivered the first tele-neuropsychology clinic to Stornoway last month, supported by the Scottish Centre for Telehealth.

Dr Copstick commented: “We are delighted to develop services which support improved access to services for patients and that will contribute to improve clinical outcomes.

“I found the technology very effective, and was myself surprised at how well I could get a feel for the clinical problems over a television. I am looking forward to continuing with the clinic.”

The new service, which is being piloted for six months, means that patients can attend a consultation in Stornoway or Uist, supported by a member of staff in the Western Isles.

A high-quality videolink connection enables a link to the consultant in Glasgow.

A major benefit of the new initiative is that it eliminates the need for some patients to have the long commute to Glasgow from their homes in the Western Isles for treatment.

Neuropsychology assessments could be lengthy and relied on patients’ full attentionn and efforts, and the clinic via videolink is aimed at improving on thepatientt experience in neuropsychology, at the same time as maintaining accurate and reliable clinical results.

Feedback from the first clinic was extremely positive, with all patients saying they found the appointment via tele-link acceptable and would agree to be seen by this method again.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson, who attended the initial ‘link-up’ with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde staff prior to the first clinic, said the new partnership was an excellent example of a patient-focused development.

“I am delighted that NHS Western Isles has hosted Scotland’s first tele-neuropsychology clinic in collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Centre of Telehealth,” he said. “The service was evaluated extremely positively by both the patients and staff involved.”

Mr Jamieson continued: “In a remote island setting, such as the Western Isles, it is imperative that we are able to embrace technology to ensure that we can provide services as specialist as possible, as locally as possible.

“The new service not only means that many patients will not have to travel to the mainland to see a specialist, but will also hopefully mean reduced waiting times to see a specialist.”

The development of the tele-neurpsychology clinic follows on from the extremely successful tele-neurology clinics, which were introduced in the Western Isles in July 2009.

Since then, more than 80 appointments have taken place, with the patient videolinking from the Western Isles to the consultant neurologist in Glasgow.