Background Healthcare professionals’ use of technology-enabled communication has increased during the COVID19 pandemic, due to social distancing restrictions. Currently, there is little published data about the experience of specialist palliative care teams using this technology, or how these tools can help to support care beyond the pandemic. This project aimed to evaluate the implementation of digital communication technology, in a hospital specialist palliative care team, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Method During the months of September and October 2020, an online survey was distributed to staff in the specialist palliative care team at the Royal Liverpool University Hospitals. The following information was collected: purpose, scope, location of use of technological tools, barriers, and future opportunities.
Results The survey was completed by 14 healthcare professionals. Microsoft Teams and Zoom were the most commonly used tools, with team updates (n= 14, 100%), multidisciplinary team meetings (n=14, 100%), education (n=12, 85.7%) and cross-site working (n=9, 64.3%) identified as the most common reasons for use. All participants used the tools on-site (n=14, 100%) with some also connecting at home (n=8, 57.1%) or at an alternative work location (n=2, 14.3%). Twelve (85.7%) reported that meetings were abandoned due to technical barriers. These barriers included: problems with logging in (n=12, 85.7%), connectivity issues (n=12, 85.7%), video/audio quality (n=8, 57.1%) and lack of training (n=8, 57.1%). Identified opportunities included the potential to use technology to support integrated palliative care, by improving communication between hospital and community teams and education. These findings have been used to identify local practice recommendations.
Conclusion Technology has the potential to improve specialist palliative care delivery; however, it is important to identify, and address, several issues (technical, process, and training) in order to overcome barriers to adoption in clinical practice.
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