Dr David Griffiths is a practising GP and the Medical Director of Consultant Connect. Within the NHS, photography has been widely used for many years, with video sometimes being used, more recently.
However, his frustration at how tricky it was to take clinical photos securely and safely, when seeing patients, influenced the decision to develop our IG secure clinical photography feature – PhotoSAF on the Consultant Connect App.
“During the pandemic clinicians have been receiving a significant amount of photos from patients to aid diagnosis. A good friend of mine is a consultant dermatologist and mentioned to me recently that they are seeing many more poor quality photos recently, where the image quality is not sufficient for them to provide diagnostic or treatment advice. This seems to be because GPs are forwarding on photos directly from their patients, without taking their own images.
That is frustrating at both ends – the consultant obviously wants to help yet cannot and, for the GP, the logistics of going back to get better photos can be a huge frustration. Far better to advise patients in advance exactly how to take a good photo for this purpose and then to ensure that the image is clear enough on transfer first time. Consultant Connect has developed advice for patients to help them do exactly that (see below).
What is more, uploading the photos/files directly from my computer (rather than taking photos of the photos for example) using the Consultant Connect dashboard (https://consultantconnect.org.uk/service/login) ensures the quality of the photos remains high, minimising the risk of photos being rejected by specialists and causing delays in patient treatment. Best of all, I don’t have any risk of finding patient photos on my phone months later as they are all transferred straight to the secure cloud.”
Here are David’s top tips for taking great clinical photos or securely storing and sharing photos sent by patients.
Using images to communicate quickly and securely
Dermatology is known as a specialty where patient photos shared for advice are extremely beneficial for patient and clinicians involved. However, Photo Advice & Guidance via the Consultant Connect App and Dashboard is ‘universal’ and is increasingly being used across different specialties – as the saying goes “a picture paints a thousand words”. See below some other specialties where image sharing has improved patient care:
Cardiology (ECG/Echo Reports)
“Often there may be subtle changes that we might flag as possibly significant but are uncertain without specialist review. The app allows specialists to review quickly and avoids unnecessary admissions being required.” Read the case study.
A patient with a swollen and painful foot sent pictures to their GP. These images and the patient’s history were uploaded by the GP to the Consultant Connect platform and shared with a specialist. Both clinicians were able to decide on “a full management plan with different steps” which was shared with the patient. Read the case study.
“I have found the Consultant Connect App particularly helpful during the current Coronavirus situation where our usual referral pathways have been disrupted; enabling me to reduce unnecessary strain upon our hospital eye service.” Read the case study.
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