In these unprecedented times, where routine is replaced with urgent and staff are seconded, leaving skeleton teams to cancel and manage elective procedures and chronic disease clinics, look to existing technology to support your hospital and patient needs and maximise the service delivery with limited resources.
Set clear SMART Objectives
Create a delivery team and decide on the objectives you want to achieve by creating the virtual clinic. For example, reassure patients who are not critical, identify patients who need urgent attention etc.
Define your processes
If you have never managed your clinic virtually before, the way in which you deliver the services will need to change. Take time to plan a new process and how changes will be managed and communicated. Confirm team roles, assign responsibilities and set clear expectations. For example, how will you assess patients remotely/virtually? How do you identify patients who need attention? What is the process for contacting patients? Make sure all staff are properly and fully briefed so their contact with patients helps reassure patients and not create further anxiety.
You may already have a suitable system available within your hospital that can track clinical data, trigger alerts and contact patients automatically dependent on specific pathway schedules, but if not, this is the time to look. Explore external options and see if there is an effective way to do this.
The system you choose needs to use validated clinical scores and questionnaires so that the data gathered is meaningful and comparable. If internal systems don’t provide these basic requirements, then look to platforms like Amplitude that can provide this for you. With coordination from Hospital IT teams, platforms like Amplitude can be up and running in a clinic in a matter of weeks.
It’s very important that the whole team, both clinical and admin, are engaged with the new process and understand the motivation for the change and the benefits they will see once operational.
It’s equally important that the way in which a virtual clinic will work operationally is effectively communicated to both internal and external clinical teams that refer to the clinic. They will need to be advised of physical changes to the referral process and any changes to patient expectations.
In addition, current patients attending the clinic will need communication regarding the changes to the way they will be seen and monitored and the benefits of their treatment.