BYO bed to the virtual hospitalgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
BYO bed to the virtual hospital
Tuesday 2 May 2000
Britain's first virtual hospital, where patients lie in bed at home and the doctor's ward round takes place on computer screens, has been given the go-ahead and may be the prototype for the the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) of the future.
The Treasury has agreed to a $A26.9 million grant from the capital modernisation fund to the defence evaluation research agency (Dera), which expects to have 250 patients in hospital at home within two years.
Although the military has won the bid, this will not be an army hospital. The fund is intended for the modernisation of public services. If the virtual hospital is a success, it is expected health authorities up and down the country will be queuing up to enrol patients.
"It could prove a model for the future for the entire NHS," said Keith Smith, of Dera.
Patients anywhere in the country will be provided with equipment, which could include devices to take readings such as blood pressure and temperature, and, if they have suffered from coronary heart disease, for instance, a cardiac monitor. All of these will be linked up electronically through the telephone line to computers at a command and control centre, which will relay the information on to the specialist in charge of the patient's treatment. The patient could be in the far south-west of England but the most appropriate specialist for their needs might be in Scotland. Distance would no longer be a problem. If the monitors indicate a problem, a local community nurse can visit and sort it out. Patients will be supplied with computer terminals that will permit video links and the consultant's ward round will be replaced by virtual visits.
Dera wants to keep the hospital simple in the early stages, so the service will be limited to patients with coronary heart disease, stroke or mental health problems, those being treated for cancer or needing dialysis. Dera believes the virtual hospital will save the NHS a lot of money, through cutting the costs of hospital beds, saving consultants' journeys from one hospital to another and allowing some medical and nursing staff to work from home. Dera's medical advisers believe that patients will recover much faster if they remain at home instead of spending days on hospital wards with the risk of cross-infections.
Smith believes patients will be keen to take part. "I don't think there is any doubt. Are they happy about spending five days in hospital where they see the doctor for five minutes a day? Of course not. We have had very positive feedback," he said.
My father had an operation last week and the hospital phoned me to pick him up - PLEASE! I found him walking along a corridor with a pocket full of candy bars doing the rounds. He wanted to go home but was loath to leave with any chocolate bars left over. It was quite entertaining..., nothing 'virtual' about it.
Regards from Down Under
-- Pieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2000
Unfortunately for the patients, anything to cut costs for the powers that be. The patient's family becomes the inexperienced, uneducated now totally over burdened caregiver who the medical community can blame for inadequate care. Kinda gives phrase "he died at home" a whole new meaning. Equipment at home-great, but the physician's visual assessment, as well as ongoing nursing assessments are missing in the treatment and accuarate diagnosis of the patient. The exhausted caregiver, on the other hand will have to deal with the guilt when the loved one's situation goes sour for lack of trained care. Beware U S citizen, this could be coming to your community. If it's cheaper for the HMO or your insurance company, you can be sure it's headed your way. The healthcare providers can always find "statistics" to "prove" it's effectiveness. And, four of the most devastating diagnoses with the potential for complications are the target of these "virtual hospitals". No liability, no accountability, except for the family who becomes the 24/7 caregiver as well as potentially the home hospice caregiver with no respite. Be forwarned if the United States healthcare industry, takes this approach. I know it scares the HELL out of me!
-- Aunt Bee (SheriffAndy@Mayberry.com), May 06, 2000.