Immedicare has been at the forefront of the use of telemedicine services in prison environments, showing it to be an efficient way to deliver high quality, specialist healthcare – and to significantly reduce the need for prisoners to leave the prison setting for their care needs to be met.
There are parallels between the healthcare needs of the prison population, and the general population. As in wider society, an increasing number of people in prisons are living longer with one or more long term condition: however, additional health related issues also arise as a result of specific environmental factors. Compared to the general population for instance, adult prisoners are more likely to use illicit drugs, have mental health issues, and to self harm.
Immedicare’s telemedicine services have been shown to reduce the need for prisoners to leave the prison setting, to attend hospital outpatient consultations, or be admitted acutely, by 50%. Undertaking consultations using high quality video facilities creates hospital bed capacity and achieves huge savings in patient transfer and bed watch costs.
The prison environment also poses unique challenges for enabling the secure and timely delivery of specialist care, and the associated security needs when a prisoner needs to attend a traditional health care setting.
In a traditional pathway, a prison healthcare team will assess the prisoner and make a referral to secondary care – which is likely to be the local acute hospital. When a prisoner attends that appointment, under prison officer escort, it is unlikely the prison healthcare team will be present.
Telemedicine solutions provide video consultation tools, so that the prison healthcare team (which has an established relationship with the prisoner) can be present for all consultations. This transforms the experience, as they can explain any issues that may not have been properly understood by the patient in the first instance. It also means that the prison health care team has a full and accurate picture of the clinical facts, rather than needing to rely on a patient’s recollection of the consultation.
When a high security prisoner needs to attend hospital with the attendant security measures, it is not only costly – it can also be an uncomfortable experience for the prisoner and/or other patients seated in the hospital’s outpatients waiting area. Delivering video consultations into the prison is cost effective and ensures privacy, dignity and security for all involved.
Security issues mean it is not always practical for prisoners to be escorted to hospital for an appointment. And with Immedicare’s telemedicine service, it’s unnecessary too. The use of specialist video tools for consultations removes the need for prison officer escorts, and ensures high quality and safe consultations.
In a challenging high security prison it can be difficult to determine whether an injured prisoner needs to be escorted to the nearest emergency department (ED), or whether they can be treated by the in house medical team.
Teleconsultation using specialist video facilities enables direct clinical consultation with the ED, enabling the medical consultant to specify the onward care requirements of the prisoner. This ensures safety is maintained, without any compromise to clinical care.
When a prisoner has been referred for a secondary care consultation, they are generally considered to be on ‘medical hold’ – preventing any scheduled move to another secure environment. The availability of telemedicine tools including video consultation facilities removes this barrier: prisoners can be moved to the most appropriate secure setting, while continuity of healthcare is assured.