Introduction In response to anticipated challenges with urgent and emergency healthcare delivery during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) introduced video call technology to supplement remote triage and ‘hear and treat’ consultations as a pilot project in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). We aimed to investigate patient and staff acceptability of video triage, and the safety of the decision-making process.
Methods This service evaluation utilised a mixture of routine 999 call and bespoke data collection from participating clinicians who logged calls they both attempted and undertook. We sent postal surveys to a group of patients who were recipients of a video triage.
Results Between 27th March 2020 and 25th August 2020 clinicians documented 1073 video triage calls. A successful video triage call was achieved in 641 (59.7%) of cases. Clinical staff reported that video triage improved clinical assessment and decision making compared to telephone alone, and found the technology accessible for patients. Patients who received a video triage call and responded to the survey (40/201, 19.9%) viewed the technology, the ambulance staff and the care planning favourably.
Callers receiving video triage that ended with a disposition of ‘hear and treat’, had a lower rate of re-contacting the service within 24 hours compared to callers that received clinical support desk telephone triage alone (16/212, 7.5% vs 2508/14349, 17.5% respectively.)
Conclusion In this single NHS Ambulance Trust evaluation, the use of video triage for low acuity calls appeared to be safe, with low rates of recontact and high levels of patient and clinician satisfaction compared to standard telephone triage. However, video triage is not always appropriate or acceptable to patients and technical issues were not uncommon.
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