There has been significant increase in the uptake of video consulting in health and care services across Wales as a result of COVID-19. However this widespread transformation has created the need for consistent and objective evaluation of the use, benefits, and challenges of digital innovations in healthcare across Wales. As part of this strategy, Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Cymru have recently organised and launched its “Community of Practice” series.

boy on video call with doctor

Community of Practice events bring together a collection of distinguished healthcare practitioners that share a common interest to improve their practice by sharing experiences with others.

The goal of these events is to share, understand, and progress particular issues surrounding the adoption of TEC in Wales, to contribute to solutions for challenges in TEC adoption, and importantly, to provide a space for professionals to share their knowledge and learning.

The events involve a blend of presentations and discussions that suit a pre-established topic or challenge. Professionals are encouraged to become involved in the key challenges and issues that are raised.

Having Difficult Conversations Virtually: The first event in the series took place on the 30th of June and tackled the challenge of how to have particularly sensitive conversations with patients virtually. Three professionals were invited to describe and discuss using video consultations for healthcare provision:

  • Dr. Arianna D’Angelo is a Consultant in Assisted Conception (Swansea Bay UHB & Cardiff University) and she discussed how herself and her team have adapted to conducting sensitive, virtual consultations with patients about fertility issues.
  • Jonathon Pearce, a Family Support Team Lead in Bereavement Social Work (Hospice of the Valleys), highlighted the adoption of video consultations when working with patients and families around the matter of death and dying.
  • Dr. Darren Cousins, a Consultant in Sexual Health & HIV (Cardiff and Vale UHB), uses video consultations for sexual health patients, such as for those needing psychosexual counselling and individuals with chronic medical conditions.

A common idea was the importance of ensuring confidentiality and safety when discussing sensitive issues with patients. This includes assessing the virtual situation, determining whether the patient is comfortable enough to have these sensitive discussions, and is able to speak freely within their environment.

Dr. Arianna D’Angelo expressed the usefulness of these events and sharing experiences with others:

“I think it was a very useful event and we should do these kind of events more regularly giving that we have adapted our way to work very quickly because of the pandemic.

Indeed, there are many advantages in the virtual approach, but more issues and difficulties arise with time so these kind of events are good to brainstorm and share experiences among us.”

TEC Cymru’s next Community of Practice event will focus on the topic of Physical Assessments in a Virtual World and will take place on 21st September 2021, between 9am and 10.30am.The following speakers have been invited to discuss their own experiences:

  • Leah Watson, Speech & Language Therapist at Swansea Bay UHB
  • Dr. Shirley Jonathan, Consultant Community Paediatrician at Swansea Bay UHB
  • Diarmaid Ferguson, Chair of National Back Pain Pathway & Clinical Network at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • James Druce-Perkins, Dietician at Aneurin Bevan UHB

All who are interested in learning and contributing to the adoption of TEC in different services across healthcare are encouraged to book and attend.