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Palliative Care and Video Conferencing

It’s well known that telemedicine and video conferencing are useful technologies within the healthcare industry and are used to transfer information between doctors and patients, but healthcare professionals are starting to use them more and more to communicate with each other. In fact, the Lottery and Rotary Club funding in Wales has provided “a group of Macmillan nurses with access to state of the art videoconferencing, allowing them to offer improved palliative care services to cancer patients.” There are many hospice and palliative care centers who are without a palliative care consultant or do not have the money to pay “out of hours cover.” For example, The Holme Towers Marie Curie Hospice in Penarth offers palliative care educational programs and would be a valuable resource for nurses at other Marie Curie Cancer Care sites, National Health Service (NHS) sites, or working in remote areas, but it’s impractical to send all staff members to attend the programs due to staffing and financial concerns. It’s situation like this for which video conferencing can be a useful alternative.

To take advantage of the Lottery and Rotary Club funding, a partnership was formed between Ceredigion Division of Hywel Dda NHS Trust, the Marie Curie Hospice in Penarth, and Marie Curie Cancer Care “to establish and develop videoconferencing and telemedicine services;” so far, the program has been a complete success. “The use of videoconferencing technology is a real bonus to nurses like me, especially given our remote location,” said Sherran Parry-Williams, a community Macmillan nurse. “We now have a weekly meeting via videoconferencing where we can discuss patient care with colleagues and have access to the consultant if needed… I have more time for my patients because I’m not spending hours on the road, driving to meetings.” Parry-Williams also mentions that it’s much easier now to just “bring patients into the [video conferencing-suite] to talk to the consultant.”

As an oncology nurse, do you think video conferencing is a useful tool to communicate with your colleagues? Do you have access to palliative care consultants to assist you when administering care to terminal cancer patients? If not, would video conferencing be helpful to get in touch with someone?
 

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