What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?
The COVID pandemic has seen an accelerated change in how healthcare is accessed with telephone visits and telemedicine appointments replacing many face-to-face consultations. Our organisations have seen a reversal in the numbers of face to face versus virtual outpatient appointments. The advantages of virtual visits in terms of time and travel savings need to be weighed up with the cost to disadvantaged families of access to phone credit and wifi. The cost of a basic smartphone is low, but accessing internet based services is not, particularly when consultations need to take place in a private environment. This project aims to increase equity of access.
What does your project aim to achieve?
UK healthcare is universal – everyone has it but it may not be an immediate economic priority for disadvantaged socio-economic groups who often need greater access to medical services.Whilst many people have a smart-phone, those on low-income families may struggle with phone credit for data to allow telemedicine connections across platforms that hospitals use such as Zoom, MS Teams, Accurx, Attend Anywhere etc.
GOSH working in partnership with vodafone would like to propose a project to reduce health inequality and improve access to telemedicine appointments by providing those in need with a either a free pre-loaded data sim card or wifi dongle that would allow enable those in need to participate in tele video appointments.
How will the project be delivered?
We plan to work with Vodafone to source low cost preloaded sim cards and/or dongles in bulk with enough credit to participate in their virtual outpatient appointments. We have a fully integrated electronic health record with a patient portal so families can easily communicate with our team if they are eligible when they receive the appointment letter. We will initially assess eligibility using the current criteria for transport reimbursement and will explore and measure other sociodemographic and economic criteria that may be accurate indicators of eligibility.
How is your project going to share learning?
We will create a blueprint to operationalise this proposal across the NHS with a costing model.
We are a paediatric hospital but the learning is applicable to all areas of clinical NHS services.