NHS Western Isles recently hosted a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Study Day aimed at MS patients, carers, clinicians and health professionals, to launch the ‘Attend Anywhere’ system and also introduce ‘Florence’ to the local MS Specialist Nursing Service.
The event, held at the Caberfeidh Hotel in Stornoway, also raised awareness on a wide variety of issues relating to the condition, including diagnosis, treatment and recognising patient relapse.
Of particular interest to those attending was the presentation given by Iain Trayner, NHS Western Isles Technology Enabled Care Project Manager, on the use Florence, or 'Flo' as the system is more commonly known, to help identify and manage relapse symptoms.
Event organiser Rachel Morrison, NHS Western Isles MS Specialist Nurse, said “With approximately over 30% of MS relapses going undetected, the event addressed issues relating to patient memory and cognitive problems, and with new MS treatments requiring regular monitoring, the introduction of ‘Flo’ will empower MS patients to record and take more control of the condition as they continue their treatment.
“With new MS treatments requiring regular monitoring, 'Flo', which is named after Florence Nightingale, is a web based text messaging clinical interface and is now being offered to help local MS patients by remotely sending messages and monitoring their condition. In addition to empowering patients, the recorded information can also assist consultants and health professionals as they plan future patient pathways and treatment plans.
'Flo' asks patients a series of questions that helps them communicate daily changes in their condition back to Rachel wherever they are in the Western Isles, and provide daily medication reminders if required.
Rachel explained, “As part of feedback detailed in the 2015 GEMMS (Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services) report, which collected evidence about how services work best for people with MS and develop NHS services for the future, it was recognised that people wanted more self management tools to help them live as independently and with fewer relapses as possible. It is expected that the use of ‘Flo’ will also benefit MS patients by capturing valuable information which can be reviewed when they visit their consultant or access other NHS services.”
A demonstration was also provided on the new VC platform 'Attend Anywhere', which allows patients do exactly that by enabling patients to access the clinic from anywhere that has internet or 3G. All patient's need is a phone or tablet with a webcam and Google Chrome.
Iain said “It was really great to meet the patients and clinicians. We were able to demonstrate with 'Flo' and 'Attend Anywhere' how technology can transform lives and help local people achieve their full potential.
“People often think that technology is complicated and expensive, but as we presented at the event, the most effective solutions are very easy to use and both of these amazing innovations are completely free for patients. Because of our relatively small patient numbers, we can provide highly customised and flexible services; making sure that NHSWI is once again the best at what we do.”
Rachel added, “’Attend Anywhere’ is a really transformational development. I plan to run a MS Rapid Access Clinic every Wednesday morning, when if any of my patients would like to talk to me, they can simply pop into the virtual Attend Anywhere MS Waiting Room.
“Due to ease of accessing ‘Attend Anywhere’ there are many benefits, including there being no travelling involved, so I can offer an equitable service across the whole of the Western Isles and can see my patients a lot faster.”
“So far my patients have been delighted with ‘Attend Anywhere’, remarking that it will save a lot of stress if they don’t have to travel regularly.”
During the event Rachel provided presentations on the future for newly diagnosed MS patients, the ‘Time is Brain’ study which reports on loss of brain volume lost by MS patients, and the Scottish MS Brain Bank which questioned whether gut bacteria plays a role in MS.
Pictured above is Iain Trayner, NHS Western Isles Technology Enabled Care Project Manager, presenting at the event.