Guest post: A new DAWN

We’ve got a new guest post from Sumayya Patel who is part of the project team, representing patients in a new initiative that’s being trialled in Newham, London. She wanted to tell you all about it, and to see what your thoughts are. Take it away, Sumayya…

There’s something exciting going on in London at the moment – in East London to be more precise – that I can’t wait to share with you! I’ve known about it for a while and couldn’t say a word until the press release had been finalised and approved.

So, now that I can tell you, where to start?

Let’s start with some information from the press release (dated 31 March 2011). “The Research and Development Team at Newham University Hospital NHS Trust is one of 14 teams, selected for the Health Foundation’s Shine programme, to find new approaches that reduce the need for acute hospital care while improving quality and saving money.

The Newham based team have developed the innovative Diabetes Appointments via Webcam in Newham (DAWN) project. This involves offering web-based consultations for routine follow-up outpatient appointments that don’t require physical examination.”

This pretty much sums up the aims of the project, which will be running until early 2012. I should put this in context a little by pointing out that there is a high prevalence of diabetes in Newham: it is estimated to be around five or six times the national average and significantly higher than the average in London.

With growing numbers of patients with diabetes and a very high rate of unattended appointments, the overall significance of the DAWN project is its aims to make a difference and improve this situation by using web-based technology.

As with any chronic medical condition, all forms of diabetes require regular care and attention involving the patient’s healthcare team and lots of self-management. After all, none of us wants to be unwell and cooped up in hospital if we can help it. So the team at Newham want to make follow-up appointments more convenient and accessible for patients by offering them at least one web-based appointment in the next few months so long as they do not require a physical assessment of any type. This will not include newly diagnosed patients or those who really do not want one. Patients will be offered a demo if they wish, and patients can have relatives or a friend present during the appointments if required.

The project aims to address the high DNA rate of unattended appointments and to facilitate self-management to empower patients. There are so many pros. This is the first project of its kind. Patients don’t lose out because they still have appointments with healthcare professionals whom they know and can speak to ‘directly’. Patient input is valued and has been welcomed from the very beginning; for example, the logo was created by Karen – a patient – for the project and a patient rep is part of the project team. The DSN and consultant who will be running these appointments are supportive, highly experienced and enthusiastic about DAWN. There has been support from decision makers at the Trust and from other departments in the hospital: if this project goes well, it could be rolled out to other departments and across London.

I believe that the project will be a success and that it will make a difference to patients and care providers, saving (travel) time and money, and potentially reducing the impact on patient social, family and work lives.

As you can tell, I’m very excited and all for it! I’m also keen to hear from you: whether you’re a carer, doctor, researcher, nurse, a patient yourself. Whatever your background, please don’t be shy: I’d love to hear from you so send in your questions, opinions and comments.

Thank you for reading and best of health to you!


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