VisitHealth, a Guardian Carers partner, is an at-home healthcare service provider. Alex Sysoev, the company’s Operations Manager spoke to us about what VisitHealth is, how it can replace traditional healthcare and how the coronavirus has shaped the way we are looking at healthcare.
VisitHealth was founded in 2017 by Dmitry Yampolskiy and partners. Alex has been with the company since its inception and helped to shape it until it was launched. He says that Dmitry started the company from the idea that “patients need healthcare then and there.” Going to the hospital or to a clinic is not really convenient anymore, both in terms of speed and in terms of safety.
It’s mostly a matter of convenience. If a patient experiences some pain or just a headache, for instance, it’s not usually something they will want to travel for or wait to get an appointment. “Dmitry thought ‘What if we come to the patient to provide some services ahead of their visit to the GP or do teleconsultations?’”
Telemedicine was a big topic at the time. Dmitry thought that the only thing missing was a hands-on approach. The fact that it’s generally not working is because “no one can examine the patients properly, administer the drugs or give a clear prognosis”, says Alex.
He goes on to explain that the main idea was to build a digital platform which connects “telemedicine doctors, remote doctors and visiting nurses who can visit a patient’s house to do physical examinations, take blood tests, conduct ECGs or whatever doctors require.” This allowed doctors to offer treatments faster.
It maximised value for the patient and “combined the multiple points of contact that you usually have within the NHS system into a single point at home.” Their goal is to be there for patients when they need it the most.
Traditionally, a patient who is looking to get treatment has to navigate through the system. “They need to have healthcare literacy”, says Alex. Many people who live in London “have different cultures, habits, and approaches, and many of them don’t know how to navigate through the NHS.”
So VisitHealth aims to make their healthcare ‘appointments’ easier. More than this, they can provide treatment to persons from the EU who are not familiar with the English language. Through their translation service, also used by the NHS, they can work with a patient’s doctor from abroad and offer them treatment here in London.
VisitHealth is a CQC registered community-based service. This means that they can do visits to a patient’s home, to community centres, as well as patients in hotels. “We can even come to the workplace if it suits the requirements of the procedure”, says Alex.
Alex stresses that “We are not doctors. We don’t do consultations. But we can provide phone consultations via our partners to maximise the value right then and there.” The main services they provide are ECGs, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring or laboratory tests such as urinalysis or blood tests.
“The most valuable service we offer is provided by registered nurses.” The nurses can do things such as administering medications, injections, infusions, care procedures for stomas, catheters or they can also do wound care and non-invasive procedures.
“The primary beneficiaries of our services are elderly people.” But they can cater to an array of people and cover a range of needs. The patients can be healthy people who just want a check-up or constant monitoring for cancer patients, for example.
Since the coronavirus hit the UK, Alex says that there has “definitely” been a shift towards at-home healthcare. The number of requests “has grown tremendously since March.” This is due to the patients having safety fears over visiting clinics. They fear to get an infectious disease there. The patients “would rather, if possible, for the services to be done at home.” As one’s own home is the safest place.
When a VisitHealth nurse comes to a patient’s home, they will be in full PPE. Patients who are at risk of Covid-19 or who have symptoms will not be able to receive the services, for their own safety and the safety of the staff. Alex says that the NHS is much better equipped to deal with Covid-19 cases and they would “not want to compromise our staff who visit one patient after another.”
In fact, since the beginning of the lockdown, none of their staff got sick with Covid-19. Their staff is also screened daily for Covid-19 symptoms. “I think that the framework that we have implemented currently is working”, says Alex.
Alex is not sure if the situation will remain exactly the same but “certainly people have started to look at it and start to consider that it is possible, as technology grows stronger and becomes better every day. It’s a matter of perception, of how we get used to receiving healthcare and what it should look like.”
VisitHealth can be found on their newly launched website visithealth.london. At the moment they only provide healthcare in London, with pop-up services all over the UK. With the idea of making the process faster and smoother and to deliver same day services, they are in the process of expanding out of London’s borders.