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Using telemedicine to enhance training

In partnership with Health Education England, two acute trusts at opposite ends of the country, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have created powerful links to share new and innovative ways of teaching and learning with the assistance of telemedicine technology. Telemedicine uses secure video conferencing through fixed and mobile systems to link up medical or other clinical staff in a quick and visual way. This project used it in various ways to enhance training


Background

The Temple and Collins reports highlighted that trainee doctors should be exposed to more supervised learning events (SLEs*). These events include additional support when directly caring for patients (patient facing episodes), delivering handover and workplace based assessments (WBAs).

Setting up and coordinating SLEs in everyday-working is often complex, particularly where supervisors and trainers work across multiple sites and locations. It was hoped that telemedicine could help address some of these logistical concerns by improving trainee access to trainers.

How they did it

The pilot provided an innovative way of using telemedicine to enable remote supervision and handover across different locations. It further supported direct training to healthcare professionals, maximised training opportunities (by using a network of hospitals for shared learning), as well as highlighting the importance of putting more standardised procedures in place to further improve the handover process across the Trusts.

Outcomes

  • Telemedicine can overcome geographical barriers and improve supervision and support across multiple sites to enhance training and education without the need for extra resource
  • Telemedicine makes efficient use of resources, freeing up clinician time to provide more support to doctors in training and nurses in clinics
  • There was a clear improvement in the amount of support and supervision from senior clinicians at some evening handovers, resulting in an improvement in hospital night-time working
  • Qualitative data from trainees and consultants suggested that the pilot project is likely to have had a positive impact on the quality of patient care and safety through better decisions and more accurate assessment of patients being made. When asked, 73% of consultants and trainees felt remote consultant input would improve the quality of care to patients
  • The project enabled enhanced formative and summative assessment of the skills and knowledge of doctors in training, in both simulated and real patient environments
  • Existing inefficiencies in the current handover system in two acute NHS trusts were highlighted, resulting in a new commitment for improved standardised procedures.

What they’ve said

“Confidential, reliable, high quality video links that are easy to use and on your smart phone/ tablet/ PC….who would have believed it 20 years ago. Now, in patient care, medical education and day to day information sharing, the potential for its use is enormous.” 

Clinical lead

“At Airedale, we’ve been using telemedicine to provide clinical care to patients for many years and because we have the infrastructure in place, we felt we could easily transfer the approach and use it to improve education and training, and hence ultimately patient care. By partnering up with Western Sussex, we’re able to demonstrate how telemedicine overcomes geographical barriers. It makes it possible for trusts to enhance training and education across multiple sites without the need for extra staff.” 

Diabetes consultant

Toolkit

Your organisation may have its own materials and templates that you can use or you may find the NHS Improving Quality (NHS IQ) learning handbook useful too.

* an interaction between a foundation doctor and a trainer which leads to immediate feedback and reflective learning. They are designed to help foundation doctors develop and improve their clinical and professional practice and to set targets for future achievements.

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