The Nottingham Auditory Implant Programme Utilises Virtual Clinic for Children with Cochlear Implant Technology

17 Mar 2020 | Case Study, Virtual Clinic

The Nottingham Auditory Implant Programme (NAIP) is a nationally recognised centre for auditory implantation, providing cochlear implants and other hearing implants to hearing-impaired children and adults.

Their rehabilitation support model for children is one where clinicians see them in their everyday environment at home or school with family and local support professionals, and Virtual Clinics were implemented to improve the children’s communication skills and provide coaching to those close to the child, to change the mindset whereby the only way that the child can progress is in the hands of the ‘experts’ at the specialist centre.

Jayne Ramirez Inscoe, Advanced Specialist in Communication for the NAIP discusses the experience of introducing and using Virtual Clinics within the programme, “we were the first team within our large teaching hospital to request help in setting up virtual clinics for our patients, carers and local support professionals. We were introduced to Involve by our NHS Trust corporate ICT team, who recognised that Involve had successfully supported the introduction of virtual clinics in other NHS teams, so we were confident that their systems complied with NHS information governance standards and patient confidentiality and safety. The Involve team are very approachable, attentive and offer practical solutions. They have a good understanding of the obstacles and barriers of current NHS ICT systems and the primary aim of patient safety. Ben, of Involve, has continued to offer support whenever needed”.

Virtual Clinic is a video and audio calling platform designed by Involve, a leading provider of digital health solutions for the NHS. Virtual Clinic enables clinicians to schedule secure and confidential video consultations with their patients using the online booking portal, and the platform sits within the NHS N3 network with connectivity to HSCN, meaning every Virtual Clinic is completely secure, whether it is a video conference between two people within the NHS network, or users outside of the network at home using the Internet or even 4G data users.

“If they have the necessary computer and internet technology, most patients, parents, local professionals are interested in Virtual Clinics for certain appointments in the rehabilitation pathway. For some older children and their parents, it has been the best way for the child to ‘speak for themselves’, to develop communication independence, to practice conversation breakdown and repair strategies and to become competent using a telecommunication method which is used widely by both hearing and deaf people across the world: video calling.”

The primary aim of cochlear implantation is for the patients to improve their listening and communication skills, and virtual clinics present them with real-life challenges, opportunities to develop conversation skills and to practice clarification and repair strategies which will help them in everyday situations in the future. Jayne discusses how the use of Virtual Clinic has benefitted the children’s communication skills, “during a home visit, children may be harder to engage, and both children and parents can become distracted. Virtual Clinic offers a way to have shorter and more focused sessions, whilst still having the benefit of seeing the child in their home environment, thus getting a representative picture of everyday behaviour.”

“There have been further benefits through using Virtual Clinics, such as Deaf parents who may require a BSL interpreter or who live far from their child’s school for the deaf have found virtual clinics an effective way to communicate with the clinicians. Time and money have been saved by both the patients and the Trust, but the benefits from having supportive conversations over Virtual Clinics have been the greatest gain to date.”

“Our plans are to continue to expand the number of patients being offered the choice of Virtual Clinic, including with adult patients and to use more regularly with children to monitor progress between re-assessment face-to-face visits. We would and have already recommended Involve’s Virtual Clinic solution to other NHS organisations.”

To find out more about Virtual Clinic, visit our Virtual Clinic page or you can contact here. Keep your eye out for part 2 of this case study, which is an in-depth look into one person’s experience of using Virtual Clinic.