The rheumatology department at Lincoln County Hospital is providing telephone clinics for eligible patients. Patients are selected based on their condition being stable, them not suffering from any recent flare ups and there not being any recent changes to their medication. More complicated patients will continue to be seen in a traditional face to face clinic.
Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Shaza Obaid said: “Before the telephone appointment I can go through the patient’s notes, access any blood results, x-rays or any other scans. I can then talk to the patient about their results and see if they have had any problems since we last saw them, review any medication and decide what to do next.
“If they are having a flare up or any other issue we can book an appointment for them to come in and be seen at a face to face clinic. Sometimes they just need advice on medication and we can discuss their options.
“After the telephone appointment we will send a letter to the GP and a copy to our patient so they are kept up to date. If the patient is stable and is happy we can also discharge them back to the care of their GP with a management plan in place.”
The telephone clinics have been welcomed by patients, particularly those who have no means of transport or live far away from the hospital. Being in a rural area public transport can be difficult, but by having a telephone appointment patients no longer have to rely on friends, family or a taxi service to help them travel to the hospital.
Dr Obaid added: “If patients are stable there is no need for them to have to be seen in a face to face clinic. They can relax in their own home and talk to us, without the stress and cost of having to travel to the hospital.
“At the moment we are running one telephone clinic every week. This means we are able to free up clinic space to be used by those who need to be seen face to face, enabling us to see these patients sooner. Running the telephone clinics from our office means we do not need a nurse in attendance and most importantly it is easier for our patients.
“In a rural community like Lincolnshire we are very well suited for these types of clinics.”