NHS Dysphagia

At a Glance

  • Video clarity for accurate assessment and diagnosis
  • Home visits cut time and costs by one third
  • Cases can be quickly targeted and treated
  • Patient has faster access to speech therapy intervention

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Swallowing Easier with Collaborative Solutions

Dysphagia – difficulty in swallowing – is a common disorder. It has wide-ranging effects and at times, can be life-threatening. The ability to assess patients using video has changed the way swallowing disorders are treated in parts of the United Kingdom.

"A couple of years ago, we had patients in nursing homes who require swallowing assessments," said Veronica Southern, principal speech and language therapist at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. "There were not enough therapists to see those patients and I thought we could use technology to assess them."

The quality of the technology has to be superior in order to make accurate assessments on a wide range of diagnostic variables, explains senior specialist speech and language therapist Sarah Nickson, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. "We find out things like chest status, whether they are having difficulty with diet or fluids, and their compliance and cognition level."

With high-definition video, therapists can see the patients clearly and make a proper assessment. "We could zoom into the mouth and to the oral cavity," says Dr. Elizabeth Boaden, consultant dysphagia practitioner at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. "It increased speech and language therapy capacity and productivity."

It also saves valuable time that can be used to treat more patients. "With telehealth, I already have their case history and I can go right into an oral examination using pen torches and make a swallow assessment using different diets and fluids," explains Nickson.

Therapists now have more time to tackle swallowing problems at all levels, especially time-critical ones. In some serious cases, dysphagia can lead to aspiration pneumonia, hospitalization, and worse. "The patient has much speedier access to speech therapy intervention," explains Nickson. "I can do a full assessment and make the recommendations there and then."  

This brings a new level of quality to the existing services available for the community and shrinks the distance between patients and care. "This project delivers a modern approach to swallowing assessments," says Southern. "Polycom helps us defy distance between our patients and therapy services."

Learn more about Video-as-a-Service here.

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