Wednesday 12th August 2020
Last month I had a discussion with Professor Simon Ray about how COVID-19 had led to digital innovation in patient pathways. Part of that discussion was around the dramatic reduction of in-person appointments in favour of virtual appointments. We spoke about what best practice in this new style of appointment looks like, and the importance of recreating the comfort and confidence patients get in-person services in this new style of appointment.
As a result of this discussion, Heart Valve Voice decided to make a Virtual Appointment Guide that prepares patients and ensures they’re getting the most out of this new style of appointment. We consulted with clinicians and patients who have experienced virtual appointments and found out what works, what doesn’t work and where we can improve this practice.
The guide looks at the call in three ways:
2. The Call
3. Results and Next Steps
Many of the patients we spoke to said preparation was crucial. And this preparation isn’t just about preparing mentally for the call; it’s about making a comfortable physical space. Thinking about what you need to say, taking notes, ensuring your space is comfortable and well lit, and even rehearsing the call with a friend or loved one. All these things reduce any nerves you may have about the call and ensure that you are confident and you know what you need to talk about.
On the call, patients said it was essential to have a rounded understanding of all parts of the discussion. So notes on symptoms are crucial; patients also need to think about where they are in their treatment plan and have questions prepared to make sure that they get everything out of the call they need to. Patients need to be comfortable, confident and assured, and the guide will help to make sure every base is covered. Remember, be open, be honest and think critically.
Moving forward, ensuring patients and their clinical team have an accurate understanding of what the next steps are, when their next appointment is, how it is taking place and what should happen if anything changes was a main priority for the patients we consulted. Ensuring they know who to report any changes to is critical, as we can not have a situation where patients are at home deteriorating without anyone being made aware.
Most importantly, patients and clinicians must remember that this is a new style of appointment, and it will likely take some time for all parties to get used to. However, this guide will help to ensure that we continue to make the most of every contact and together we are working towards a best practice in virtual appointments.