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How our ICU team are helping to connect patients with their families

Jamie Strachan, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Milton Keynes University Hospital tells us about how he’s been using Nye to connect ICU patients and their families.

I've introduced using a new system to communicate with families from the ICU (and some wards) in Milton Keynes Hospital. Whilst it doesn't replace real human contact with relatives, it's been invaluable for patients, families and relatives alike.

We have been using a system called Nye to call relatives of patients in the Intensive Care Unit at Milton Keynes Hospital, for the last couple of weeks. It’s been great!

They even wrote about the work we’ve been doing in The i newspaper.

"Jamie, is an Intensive Care consultant in Milton Keynes. He painted a reassuring picture of high morale among clinicians and impressive strategies being rolled out across his Trust. These include operating theatres being transformed into ICUs and training anaesthetists and surgeons to take on new tasks to ensure all patients get the support they need."

Normally we would meet families every day to update them, we have open visiting and (within reason) they could be here all the time. We get to know them and they us. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, that’s all off. We can ring them and they can ring us but we are busy and aren’t always by the phone.

Nye, a spin-off from Oxford University, run by GP Alexander Finlayson, allows us to call relatives using an iPad or a tablet or in fact, any device that has a mic, camera and speakers.

We asked for phones from charity (thanks Boxx Comms and Milton Keynes Hospital Charity!), but you can use it on any device with a browser.

"With the successful trial, Dr Strachan was keen to roll out more widely – which is where the charity came in."

Milton Keynes Hospital Charity

To help families know what to expect, we put some text in our COVID19 unit info:

"If your relative has previously given us their consent before being sedated, our team can discuss the option of a video call so you can see your relative, using a safe technology called NYE Health"

So how does it work?

We can telephone call families of patients using Nye

Or we can invite the relative to install the Nye app on their smartphone (needs an ‘able to install an app on smartphone’ level of technical ability)

Which then enables a video call 🎥

It’s one-way only, so the clinician can make calls but they can never be returned.

We only make these calls if the patient (before they go off to sleep) and family both give their consent. We also carefully guide the family through what they might see. In my experience, most people *think* it will be more dramatic than it is, but in this setting, it needs curation by a healthcare professional 👩‍⚕️

Ultimately it works if the clinical team wants to do it and buy into it! (Thanks all - some are pictured!!)

Is it doing harm to staff or relatives? There is potential if used badly. But the burden of human suffering during this pandemic is big, and sharing that appropriately using video calling in an era of no visiting with compassion in our experience, makes things better not worse 💓

For further updates on how Jamie and the team are using Nye, you can follow Jamie on Twitter @strachanjamie.

If you would like to use Nye in your department then you can get started here or if you would like to find out more then get in touch with our team on, we would love to hear from you.

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