A study published in the peer reviewed journal, eClinicalMedicine, has highlighted the positive impact of the virtual A&E service provided by Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS FT.
The research explored the safety of video-based telemedicine compared to in-person triage in emergency ophthalmology, during COVID-19.
Case notes of 404 adults who used the video consultation service, from 20/04/2020 to 03/05/2020, were compared to 451 patients who attended eye casualty in person during the same period.
The researchers from Moorfields Eye Hospital led the study and found that the virtual A&E eye service delivers patient safety levels comparable to that of an in-person triage.
It also suggests that remote video-based triage systems are safe for more widespread adoption, particularly when balanced against the risks of COVID-19 exposure.
The virtual service was introduced to support patients to see an A&E doctor within 10 minutes of logging on to the platform on the Moorfields website. It has a virtual waiting room where a ‘virtual receptionist’ prioritises patients and signposts them to the correct service.
Moorfields highlighted that almost eight in 10 people were able to get the treatment they need without travelling into hospital, with 95% of patients giving the service a maximum satisfaction rating.
Dr Gordon Hay, service director for A&E at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “The virtual eye A&E platform has revolutionised the way we receive emergency patients and has been so successful that we will keep it running on a long-term basis.
“In many cases we have been able to divert patients directly into the most appropriate clinic or service, including services more local to them – avoiding over 10,000 return trips to London during the COVID-19 peak.”
Dr Olivia Li, honorary digital fellow of the department of digital medicine at Moorfields Eye Hospital, added: “Telemedicine is not novel, but COVID-19 has pushed us into adopting it at such a large scale. We are delighted to be able to demonstrate that our online eye A&E is safe for our patients as this was our main priority and we look forward to further integrations of tech into our clinical practice in future.”
HTN reported recently that Moorfields launched a department of digital medicine to accelerate technologies. The new clinical informatics department will play a key role in the use of data and technology across the organisation and by its patients. The department will be responsible for monitoring clinical safety of digital systems, and provide clinical input into the design and implementation of new technologies. It will also review and validate new technologies and play a key role in piloting digital services.