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From Cork to Budapest by Skype: living and dying


Effective communication is a prerequisite to the delivery of good palliative care. The increasing use of web-based technologies and social media challenges us to reassess traditional communication styles and to define appropriate applications of evolving technologies. The use of Skype, blogging and webcams by patients in our hospitals and hospices is increasing. As illustrated in this case, the availability of such technology enables patients and families to communicate across wide geographical boundaries. This has particular advantages in situations where family members cannot routinely attend at the hospital because of other commitments or distance. The authors report on the varying use of Skype video-telephony over the course of a cancer patient's illness from the initial treatment phase through to the final days and hours of life. The benefits and challenges of using such technologies in a hospital setting and particularly in end-of-life circumstances are discussed.

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