Dr Triska, who is digital first clinical director at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership, a coalition of NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups, added: “It is part of the NHS England procurement. They are looking at how we do the next bit.
“I don’t think I would be terribly surprised if in 12 months time, this is a much more common technology.
“Most of NHS England’s drive is how do we do this with care homes, how do we do this with home visiting services. Hub-based stuff is a spin off from that.”
Witley and Milford surgeries have been dropping the stethoscope into local care homes to enable remote examinations of patients who need to be seen by a doctor. In those cases, nurses at the homes help to carry out the examination, with the GP giving directions over a video link.
“They do the examination with you, the data is streamed back to the doctor,” Dr Triska said. “The nursing home resident isn’t put at risk, the clinician uses their time effectively, because you can do that a lot more speedily.”
He added: “It is going to be an absolute godsend to these shielded patients who are at high risk from seeing us.”
An NHS spokesman said: “Even during these unprecedented times, if people need help from a family doctor they are able to get it, our GPs are quickly adapting to new technology – video consultations and online tools – to continue providing care in a different way.
“The digital revolution within the health service was underway before Covid-19, with the NHS Long Term Plan setting out ambitious plans to increase the range of digital health tools, wearable monitoring equipment and services available.”