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30 June 2020

Virtual patient assessments with a personal touch

Despite lockdown limiting patient appointments, the Pulmonary Rehab Team has continued face-to-face assessments with a virtual twist.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an education program that focusses on tailored physical exercise and information to help people better understand and manage a lung condition and symptoms.

The patients seen by the team are among those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, with lung problems and frequently, aged 70 and over.

An in-person appointment, no matter how vital, would not be practical, while the patient is shielding and protecting themselves from the virus.

Traditionally, the service would host clinic days with patients coming in to their appointment or to join an activity class.

To make sure the trust is still able to provide a service to, Gill Fleming, a physiotherapist from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, has adopted a new way to support our patients.

Thanks to Accurx secure video call systems, a secure and confidential video call tool, the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Team has been able to virtually meet patients to begin the assessment process and help patients manage their conditions.

Gillian said: “It’s nice to see the patients and they seem to enjoy seeing me. We cannot have face-to-face contact at the moment, but this helps break that barrier down, making the assessment more personal – it’s much better than a phone call. It also helps me to gain visual feedback from the patient, which is a helpful dimension to the assessment.”

You may think that because of the technical challenge it might be tricky to get it to work smoothly with patients, but this isn’t the case.

Gill explained: “I would really recommend using these video calls. It’s really easy to use and the patients I have used it with have had very few problems.

“It’s great that they can see me while I talk to them and it adds a nice dimension to our interaction, putting the patient at ease while I talk to them about their conditions.

“Many of our older patients and are in the high-risk groups and do not have a lot of contact with other people at the moment while they stay at home, so they enjoy the contact and getting to see a friendly face.”

In the future, the service is looking into continuing and increasing its use of video call software, with the possibility of offering group activity sessions for patients from the comfort of their own home.

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