Background Princess Alice Hospice’s current strategy promotes exploring different ways of working to increase end-of-life care and support, in more sustainable ways. This includes the potential to integrate digital technology into hospice care. This project aimed to assess the willingness and capability of patients and families, and healthcare professionals to engage with new technologies for consultations in an end-of-life care setting. It sought to identify opportunities for improved, efficient communication and highlight any potential barriers to the use of telemedicine.
Method A mixed methods approach was used, first focusing on established technology users in order to understand their needs and preferences before expanding to users who were less digitally connected. Data was collected in: questionnaires, feedback and collaboration workshops with patients/carers, internal and external professionals, trial sessions of telemedicine. A thematic analysis was then conducted.
Greater than 66% participants had access to internet enabled devices
80% people use the internet on a daily basis
63% participants used Skype or equivalent before; 47% of these were using it either daily or weekly.
Results‘[I’m] very comfortable using video calls. I would happily swap some visits for a video call on Skype or FaceTime.’
‘[Using video calls] would be fine if I felt comfortable with the technology and I knew the person I was talking to and already had a relationship with them.’
Conclusions Telemedicine is acceptable to many people who use the hospice services. Indeed, patients described telemedicine as having some logistical advantages over home visits. However, 1st consultations should continue to be face-to-face in order to establish a relationship, do an environmental assessment and consider whether telemedicine would be appropriate for future contacts.
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