Doctors launch app to give parents direct access to paediatricians

Team behind NHS clinical communications app, Pando Health, launches new app to support child health across the UK

Dr Lydia Yarlott with the Juno app she helped to create

A new app that gives parents instant access to NHS paediatricians has been launched, enabling families to seek medical advice from specialists on demand.

The paediatrician-designed app, Juno, was trialled by 1,000 parents during its beta phase and is now available to download across the UK.

Juno has been designed and launched by the team behind Pando Health, the doctor-led communications app used by more than 65,000 NHS clinicians to speed up communications and reduce reliance on pagers and WhatsApp use in clinical settings.

Pressures on paediatric services are building, meaning access to expertise is getting harder at a time when parents are increasingly desperate for the peace of mind that comes from specialist advice

The founders, Dr Lydia Yarlott, Philip Mundy, and Dr Barney Gilbert, decided to use their understanding of healthcare communications and the expertise of their network to create Juno; giving parents a direct route to paediatric specialists.

With demands on the NHS increasing and waiting lists lengthening; it can now take months to access an appointment with a specialist.

And this is putting increased pressure on A&E units, with worried parents often seeing it as the only way to get a doctor to assess their child.

Alongside this, difficulties in accessing same-day GP appointments and patients avoiding healthcare settings due to virus concerns means a range of health issues are going unaddressed.

To fill this gap, and ensure paediatric health issues are addressed; parents can now use Juno to ask questions about their child’s health.

An on-call team of GMC-registered paediatricians is available to provide guidance via instant chat and photo sharing, with questions responded to in less than four minutes on average.

The Juno paediatricians also ensure any serious health concerns are escalated immediately via 111 calls or by advising A&E attendance.

All the Juno paediatricians have membership of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (MRCPCH) accreditation. And each provides support to Juno on a flexible basis, with the majority combining it with their career in the NHS.

Dr Yarlott said: “Parents of young children will always err on the side of caution and seek advice from a specialist if they have any health concerns. And this is exactly what they should be doing.

“But pressures on paediatric services are building, meaning access to expertise is getting harder at a time when parents are increasingly desperate for the peace of mind that comes from specialist advice.

“I’m a paediatrician and we’re expecting our first baby, so I understand this from both sides.

“With Juno, we want to help more parents get that safe, trusted advice from experts while also ensuring our paediatric wards and A&Es can focus on those most in need.”

“Juno gives parents the ability to seek NHS-grade specialist advice at their own convenience, without adding extra pressure to an already-stretched system

Mundy adds: “The NHS is completely brilliant but it’s under a huge amount of strain. And this means patients can’t see the right doctor when they need them.

“Some people are waiting for nearly a year to see a specialist. Others are sitting in A&E for six hours to receive advice that could have been provided remotely.

“The system simply isn’t working and patients are ending up frustrated and anxious.

“When it comes to protecting the health of our children, this is far from good enough.

“We need to connect patients directly to experts, cutting out the steps in between which are delaying care and wasting NHS time.

“With Pando Health, we built the largest messaging network of doctors in the UK. And now, with Juno, we want to use that network and our technology to give parents a direct route to paediatric specialists.

“Through Juno, we will keep more children well and stop hospital services and GPs from becoming overwhelmed."

And Dr Victoria Agunloye, an NHS paediatric registrar and one of the doctors providing advice through the app , said: "Our current healthcare set-up has meant that hospitals have been the only source of specialist paediatric advice for too long.

The app links parents with paediatric specialists

“This can make it very difficult for clinicians like me to practice good, family-centered care.

Parents and children have to take time off work and school, and often travel long distances, for what might be a 15-minute consultation.

“Juno gives parents the ability to seek NHS-grade specialist advice at their own convenience, without adding extra pressure to an already-stretched system."

During the beta phase of app testing, parents across the country have received advice on everything from childhood rashes and handling colic, to best practice for treating colds.

Access to the clinicians is available between 8am-8pm, seven days a week, with 24-hour access coming soon.

The app operates on a £9.99-per-month subscription fee and offers a 14-day trial for all new users.

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