Service Evaluation during Implementation of a Novel Service to Improve Communication between Hospital In-Patients and their Loved Ones during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jean-Pierre Laake, Thomas Dale MacLaine | University of Warwick
Restrictions on hospital visiting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to have reduced the support available to in-patients and to have impacted the physical and mental wellbeing of the most vulnerable patients and their loved ones. We designed a novel service, which supported patients to communicate with their loved ones via video-calls. We report our preliminary service evaluation.
We delivered the service in phases to expedite service rollout and up-take and to identify appropriate processes for consent. We purposively sampled patients and staff who had experience of patient connect in the early phase of its roll out and asked them to complete a questionnaire. This asked about perceived quality and availability of this new charitable service.
During implementation both staff (n=31) and patients (n=8) were positive about the quality of the calls (median 9.0 (IQR 8.0-10); median 7.5 (IQR 7.0-10)), availability of the tablets (median 9 (IQR 7.3-10); median 9.5 (IQR 7.5-10)), and the quality of the service (median 10.0 (IQR 8.0-10); median 7.0 (5.5-8.0)). Staff commented that more training and user guides would be helpful and both staff and patients reported some accessibility issues related to the limited number of devices.
Preliminary feedback from staff and patients who made use of the service during implementation was positive, though several areas for improvement were identified. Given the foreseeable physical distancing restrictions, there is an ongoing need for similar services to ensure in-patients remain connected to their loved ones whilst in hospital.
HealthSHIP (Health Students Helping On Pandemics): An Open-Source Volunteering Platform Written for Healthcare Students, by Healthcare Students
Ronald MacDonald & Cassandra Baiano | The Universities of St. Andrews & Dundee (ScotGEM)
The outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe saw varied grass-roots efforts to attempt to organise and manage volunteers on the ground. Such efforts were managed largely through Facebook, Twitter, Google Forms and various other platforms. Each of these platforms had their own benefits and pitfalls, so HealthSHIP was quickly designed and deployed to offer a bespoke volunteer management system in the Dundee / St Andrews area. This report will coincide with the open-source release of the platform so that its success may be built upon by other teams across the world. The platform was written and run by 2x GEM students on the ScotGEM course (Universities of St Andrews / Dundee), who had previous experience in software engineering and IT project management.
This paper is a report that delves into some of the key strengths and weaknesses of the platform. Its intention is to allow other groups and organisations to quickly deploy a volunteer management platform should local or national requirements require it. The report is accompanied by the full source code for the platform so that it can be stood up by other groups for testing, development and deployment.
The paper demonstrates how the platform's engagement and utilisation may have been increased from the very beginning, by discussing some of the key "sticking points" in the initial deployment of the platform. It also includes reports from users (volunteers and service users) of the platform, illustrating how it was used throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Service delivery and improvement: User engagement, IT infrastructure and delivery, Healthcare IT / Project management
Impact of Virtual Reality Training on Orthopaedic Trainees: a Systematic Review
Elinor Clarke | University of Warwick
Virtual Reality (VR) provides users with a realistic, 3D experience that allows surgical trainees to practice skills in a safe environment. The field of Trauma and Orthopaedics (T&O) is yet to utilize VR in training, despite its advantages as a teaching aid. This study aims to conduct a systematic review to investigate the efficacy of VR in T&O training, against current simulation methods.
A systemic review of online databases for randomized controlled trials focusing on VR training against conventional training in orthopaedic surgery was performed. Data synthesis was performed through thematic analysis.
16 studies were identified, totalling 431 participants. 47 outcomes were measured. 8 studies completed both pre- and post-test assessment; 7 noted a statistically significant improvement for the intervention group from baseline. 6 studies achieved significance for the intervention group post-test results over control in all outcomes measured. Although significance between intervention and control was not always achieved, most studies found the intervention outperformed the control.
VR provides an immersive teaching tool that can develop skills in trainees. This study demonstrates the value of VR against conventional teaching methods in T&O surgery - consistent with previous research encouraging its introduction into core curriculum. However, long-term analysis of the results of VR training on surgical trainees has yet to be conducted, which is needed to ensure that VR does not just teach skills well but leads to better patient outcomes - this study recommends that future research follows trainees using VR into the operating room.
The (Future) Doctor Will See You Now: Piloting a Longitudinal Virtual Patient in Medical Education, Simulating General Practice
Thomas Dale MacLaine | University of Warwick
Virtual patients provide numerous learning opportunities for medical students, yet only support one-off patient interactions. In order to emulate general practice, allowing for multiple encounters with a single patient, we developed a new longitudinal virtual patient (LVP).
Our LVP was integrated into 2nd year at a graduate-entry medical school, in the 2019/2020 academic year. Students were asked about their prior experience and expectations of LVPs, before they engaged with two consultations and one results session. Data were collected from this survey and from the engagement with the LVP. Feedback was collected and thematically grouped.
120 students responded to the survey. 1.7% had previous experience with virtual patients, with the majority of students expecting the LVP to make a difference to their clinical reasoning. 142 students had engaged with the LVP, with 53% having completed over 75% of the work. Informal feedback arose around accessibility, professional learning and development, and engagement with the LVP module.
Our data indicate that LVPs are agreeable to medical students, with good engagement and positive reports of clinical learning.
Future evaluation of this work, exploring reasons of engagement or lack of, will support refinement of the LVP to accommodate the learning needs of the medical students.
Students in graduate-entry medicine often have little experience with virtual patients. LVPs aimed to emulate general practice are well received in medical education, offering additional learning resources. Students valued the learning from the LVP, with feedback recommending minor changes for future academic years.
The Experiences of Medical Students, Carers, and a Digital Design Company in the Co-Development of Care Companion, a Personalised Web-based Resource to Support Informal Caring
Rhiannon White, Adrian McGrath | University of Warwick
As the importance of informal carers in healthcare provision in the UK is increasingly recognised, there is a growing need to address the physical, psychological, and social challenges they can face. Care Companion is an innovative online platform, that aims to provide reliable and accessible information for unpaid adult carers. Its website is populated by resources written by medical students under the direction of carers, who are continuously consulted to draw on their experiences of support and current challenges.
Semi-structured interviews were carried out with three key groups: the carer panel group, medical students and the digital development company. Interviews were analysed using iterative thematic analysis to identify important themes and issues relevant to the experience in co-developing Care Companion
Participants had a range of computer literacy and all had previous caring experience. Motivations for involvement included the perceived value of the project, perceived need for carers to have easy access to online resources and potential personal benefit. Overall, participants had a positive experience. Perceived advantages to a collaborative approach included the unique insights from each group, the potential to improve the end-product, personal gratification and professional development. The disadvantages included differences in working style, a lack of clear product ownership, and logistical issues in coordinating meetings and managing demands with other responsibilities.
This study suggests a positive role in a collaborative approach to the design of a personalised web-based resource for carers, in which key groups benefit personally and professionally.