In 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic the speech and language team in St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park adapted their service and began to use video enabled care to deliver therapy for both in-patients and out-patients. By using video-enabled care some patients were able to leave hospital earlier and continue their therapy at home.
Patient Linda Murphy from St Margaret’s in Co Dublin regularly receives speech and language therapy via a video call with clinical specialist Laura Douglas. Linda suffered a stroke on St Stephen’s Day 2020 and was an in-patient in St Mary’s. Her right arm and her speech were affected. Since going home to north county Dublin continuing her speech and language therapy in St Mary’s using video calls has been hugely helpful.
Describing some the benefits of having the video sessions at home her husband Tony Murphy says: ‘‘This 45-minute session could really take you three hours by the time we would have gotten ready and driven to St Mary’s hospital, had the session and then driven home in traffic. It’s also great to be able to have the session in the comfort of your own home. That’s a real benefit for us. We found no negatives with it, everything is positive and it definitely made life easier. We can really see the benefits after every session Linda has.‘’
Laura Douglas says the response and feedback from patients has been really positive and the staff in St Mary’s have worked hard to take the feedback from the people using the service into account.
For video-enabled care, appointments are arranged in the usual way with patients receiving a link to their online consultation via email or text. No special accounts, passwords, software or dial-ins are needed, only an internet enabled device such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop. On clicking a link the patient enters a private, secure online waiting room, where they are met by their clinician for an on-screen appointment.
The clinician and patient can see and speak to each other as well as share and discuss documents like test results, letters and case notes. Appointments are strictly confidential and conversations are not recorded.
Some 200,000 video consultations with patients have taken place in the health service since March 2020. The use of technology brings many benefits including a reduced risk of infection as physical distancing can be maintained. It offers an alternative to travelling to a physical clinic saving time, money and potentially the need for a family member to take time off work to accompany a relative to an appointment.
Watch Tony and Linda illustrate the benefits and staff at St Mary’s outline the benefits: