Barnsley Hospital NHS shares experience using Microsoft tech for virtual consultations

Microsoft has published a case study outlining how Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust partnered with OX.DH in order to deploy Microsoft technologies for video consultations, with the aim of delivering a “familiar, intuitive, integrated and easy-to-use solution”.

The case study notes that although the trust had implemented Microsoft Teams to support working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a different solution was being used for video consultations which was seen as “lacking in patient-friendliness”.

Deputy director of ICT Richard Billam was inspired by a neighbouring trust’s use of a virtual consultation system, created by Microsoft Partner and developed and hosted on Microsoft Azure. OX.DH’s platform “utilises standard Microsoft services and technologies wherever possible to ensure best-in-class capabilities, simplified support, assured ongoing development and a seamless user experience”. As part of this, Microsoft Teams is used for virtual consultations and appointments, with the trust’s physiotherapy service manager Dawn Walton commenting that their clinicians “like Teams because of the familiarity and clarity.”

Speaking on the benefits, Richard highlights that Microsoft Teams offers improved audio and visual quality, and that it simplifies the patient experience as consultations are joined via web browser rather than needing to download the app.

Microsoft’s functionalities mean that automatic notifications are generated once an appointment is booked, supporting the trust’s attendance rate. The automations can be delivered by “leveraging the low-code and no-code capabilities” of Microsoft Power Platform and Azure Service Bus; Microsoft highlights that this means the automations can be “delivered very quickly using proven technology.” In addition Microsoft Power BI offers dashboards and reporting, providing the trust with insights into patient journeys using the technology.

There has been “great feedback from clinical staff”, Richard states. Due to close integration between the platform and the trust’s EPR system, appointments can be created in the EPR and appear automatically and immediately in Microsoft Teams, with the clinician required only to click to join the call. This “saves a lot of time and eliminates a great deal of frustration”.

Dawn shares that the trust expects “around 15 to 20 percent of our consultations to be virtual once the system is fully rolled out – when that happens there will be significant gains and time savings. I would definitely recommend the system.”

Barnsley’s speech and language therapy team trialled the new platform, with plans now in place for a full roll-out.

Read the case study in full here.

HTN previously interviewed Richard about the project; catch up here.

We also spoke with OX.DH co-founder and CEO John Kosobucki, to hear more about OX.DH’s technology and their hopes for the future.