The SurgeryPod is a touchscreen kiosk that patients can use to measure vital signs and take questionnaires - without assistance. This article discusses the potential benefits of using the Pod, how they might be achieved and which patients might be best suited to use this equipment.
Users of the SurgeryPod kiosk can carry out tests at their convenience, and then send results to a clinician instantly.
Nurses are able to spend more time providing support and care to patients because of the Pod, research suggests.
Because patients can take certain measurements while they wait, nursing staff have more time in appointments for diagnosis, treatment and support.
Enhancing the patient experience
Usually placed in a GP surgery waiting room or care home communal area, behind a small divider for privacy, the Pod lets patients carry out tests outside time with a nurse.
Peripherals attach to the Pod that measure statistics such as oxygen saturation or blood pressure automatically, and patients can use its touchscreen to complete clinical questionnaires.
Results can be sent to practice software (such as EMIS) or to a web application that nurses can view from the office.
A paper published in the RSM Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare conducted unstructured interviews with GPs and practice managers on the utility of the SurgeryPod.
A patient with a long-term condition can measure their blood pressure multiple times between appointments with a nurse, if they can access a Pod easily.
By giving nurses more information on patients’ health, the Pod may help clinical staff make more informed decisions.
It’s also argued that certain results, such as blood pressure, are more accurate when measured this way.
Patients can also complete health questionnaires: someone visiting for a blood glucose measurement could also take a PHQ9 depression questionnaire, for example.
By improving the convenience and accessibility of care, patients who might otherwise be too busy or disinterested can receive attention from a nurse.
For example, patients whose work hours would prevent them from seeing a nurse during normal surgery hours, or patients who don’t want to make time for routine appointments to measure blood pressure or weight.
Users felt that the Pod was most effective if used before seeing a nurse, with self-service tests on the SurgeryPod followed up by a consultation.
Nurses were able to use appointments for care and support, while instructing patients to use the Pod for measurements in their own time.
In the RSM paper mentioned above, it was highlighted that receptionists could be vital in referring and assisting users on the Pod, perhaps providing initial instruction or suggesting they use the Pod while they wait for an appointment.
The SurgeryPod could also help improve quality and outcomes framework scores. Patients waiting for an appointment could complete some of the tests recommended by QOF while they wait, even if it wasn’t the original reason for their visit.
It was also suggested the Pod could be used as a communication tool.
If patients were regularly using the Pod for tests, they could be shown reminders about flu vaccinations or other information on the Pod.
In addition, if the Pod could access parts of a patient’s electronic patient record it might be able to suggest tests necessary for QOF achievement.
The Pod also means less time is required for data entry and record management, because the Surgery/CommunityPod can upload results instantly.
Nurses play a key role in the SurgeryPod’s success, developers suggest, with follow-up appointments and encouragement to use the Pod enhancing its impact.
The Pod is also multi-lingual, which means patients who might otherwise require a translator to attend every appointment can take tests with greater convenience.
The cost of providing care might be reduced by the Pod’s ability to support and encourage patients practising self-care.
The most important benefit: the Pod brings patients and nurses closer together, and perhaps in doing so, improves care and saves lives.