Alder Hey Children’s and Liverpool Women’s Hospitals have been using new and innovative telemedicine robots to ensure that babies are provided with the best possible care without the clinician being in the room.
Clinicians have been using new telemedicine robots, funded by Alder Hey Children’s Charity to treat young patients. Paediatric and neonatal surgeons from Alder Hey and neonatologists from Liverpool Women’s will often work side by side on wards or in operating theatres in treating sick neonatal babies but the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted movement of staff between the two hospitals.
This new equipment means that clinicians are still able to take part in ward rounds, deliver ad hoc emergency medical advice and facilitate urgent reviews for babies that have just been operated on without having to travel to the relevant hospital site.
The telemedicine robots from INTouch Health, come with two incredible high definition cameras which allow a clinician at Alder Hey to obtain a clear view of a baby at the Women’s or vice versa. The cameras can zoom into every detail, with the main cameras being able to zoom up to 24x and the boom camera having the ability to zoom up to 36x meaning that clinicians can also view vital details in order to make key clinical decisions.
The technology also has a port where devices such as stethoscopes or scanners with a USB or HDMI cable attached can be plugged in, allowing the clinician who could be at home or working from another site, to make more accurate clinical decisions.
Two robots of the four robots purchased are active now between Alder Hey and the Women’s and the remaining robots to be used at Alder Hey. This is an exciting development for Alder Hey’s Digital Future’s strategy, and is supported by Alder Hey’s digital and innovation teams.
Joanne Minford, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, said:
“As the surgical lead for the Liverpool Neonatal Partnership I can see both how much the system has helped the Partnership weather COVID-19, and how it can help us to continue to improve care for babies in the future.
“The simplicity of the system, which is very intuitive and the reduction of travel time has meant we can make medical and surgical decisions quickly and with all the information we need. We can see the babies in high definition and the first time I used the system, I felt just as if I were in the room. Parents seem to love it too – I can answer all the questions Mums and Dads have in a very natural way.”
Fiona Ashworth, Chief Executive, Alder Hey Children’s Charity said:
“The Charity is delighted to see this technology in use between the two hospitals, ensuring a seamless sharing of expertise in time-critical situations. The impact of using this technology now during the current crisis has been incredible, but even beyond that the ongoing benefits for the communities that both hospitals serve are amazing.”
Dr Chris Dewhurst. Clinical Director for the Liverpool Neonatal Partnership said:
“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a reduction of about a third in the face to face clinical time that the consultant neonatologists were able to provide. This reduction threatened our ability to provide a clinical service to the neonatal units at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Hospital. The telemedicine system has allowed our consultants who have been shielding to provide a full clinical service across both organisations.
“We have actually seen the care for our babies be enhanced by the telemedicine system. Busy specialists have been able to be at the baby’s cot side within minutes of being contacted, providing their expert opinion and discussing with the families as if they were in the room. Parents have fed back how they have been able to build a relationship with consultants who visited them regularly, despite not meeting them in person. Telemedicine has now become part of our normal care for babies across the city.”
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Liverpool Women’s Hospital are working together to create a Single Neonatal Service across both hospital sites in order to protect the most vulnerable babies and provide an improved experience for them, their families, and the staff providing neonatal care. This year Liverpool Women’s announced plans for the redevelopment of their existing Neonatal Unit and there are plans for a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opening at Alder Hey in 2022.