What lessons have we learnt from COVID?
Creating a more efficient communication platform for a new remote world.
By Alex Macfarlane
In our endeavour to evolve and improve as a company, we must reflect back on an eventful year for healthcare. Here are a list of the lessons we learnt about communication in healthcare from the COVID-19 first wave:
- Bespoke communication tools are needed to support remote working.
- Email is not a suitable tool for real time communications so crucial updates can be missed
- Instant Organisation messaging is pivotal to update staff on changes to government guidelines.
- Photos can facilitate remote reviews, reducing individuals’ contact.
- Connecting community teams with hospital specialists digitally has helped reduce patient’s exposure to COVID-19, by removing the need for in person appointments.
- Group messaging is a simple but invaluable tool for disseminating information quickly.
- When a difficult job becomes even more arduous and dangerous, separating work and home life is extremely important for staff wellbeing.
Bespoke communication tools are needed to support remote working.
The pandemic forced many of us to work from home, with remote working rapidly becoming the new normal. This was a completely different way of working for most people, particularly in healthcare, and the way in which we communicate with colleagues needed to quickly adapt.
Whether it was staying up-to-date with your team, or being able to speak about patients and share their identifiable information safely – communication needed to be more efficient.
“Thanks to Pando, we have been able to continue running a support network for our vulnerable patients with mental health difficulties, despite all now working remotely due to coronavirus. Through the app, we have been able to coordinate our workflow, discuss confidential information and avoid time lost ringing around for updates.”
– NHS Mental Health Occupational Therapist
“We’ve been using Pando in many ways to communicate during remote working: about patients, workloads, taking breaks, rotas – pretty much everything!”
– Teni Tomasian Audiologist at GSTT
“It’s more secure than WhatsApp, so we don’t have to be discrete in the way we talk. Pando allows us to stay more connected and is particularly helpful for whomever is working in isolation at our smaller site to maintain this degree of connection that would otherwise have been lost. It’s been really valuable.”
– Zoë Greaves, GP at Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG
“We used to have a morning meeting to discuss who goes where and what needs to be done. But due to COVID we can no longer do that, as we have restrictions to the numbers within our office. So Pando has helped with the coordination of the team and with delegating tasks. Sending a message is so much easier.”
– Pharmacist at Canterbury Hospital
Email is not a suitable tool for real time communications so crucial updates can be missed
“We started using Pando from March/April 2020, at the start of the lockdown, as the COVID crisis was developing. There was a need for standardised communication between clinical groups. During the total lockdown we were using Pando frequently.”
“We had a team of consultants and a team for junior doctors, which eventually developed into different groups. Initially it was just messages, but because it’s secure we then started using it for sharing patient information and clinical images to get advice and second opinions.“
“It improved communication between clinicians. If a message was sent on email, it wouldn’t be seen and then people would be waiting. With Pando we’d get a message back instantly with who was covering, leading to a better patient experience.”
– Balasubramanian Ramasamy, Ophthalmology Consultant at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Instant Organisation messaging is pivotal to update staff on changes to government guidelines.
During the start of COVID 19, guidance on handwashing and PPE was changing on a daily basis as new evidence emerged. In these times of uncertainty with evolving guidance, several NHS organisations in the north of England used broadcast messaging to communicate the latest safety advice to all of their staff instantly. This offered a clear advantage over emails which were routinely not being read. These messages included up-to-date advice on what to do when coming into contact with a COVID-19 patient, what staff should do if they developed symptoms, and updates on changes to government guidelines on self-isolating.
Other Trusts found it extremely useful to send broadcast messages to help direct staff to their bulletin for all updates. Whether it was PPE updates, sharing links to staff briefings and vlogs covering supply of PPE, or COVID-19 testing for staff, the broadcast messages allowed a clarity and coherence during an unsettling period.
Photos can facilitate remote reviews, reducing individuals’ contact.
“Due to COVID, we had a lady that didn’t want us visiting her mum. She let one junior member of staff in, but she was very reluctant to let anyone else in. The staff member was able to take a photo on Pando, send it to our team and we were able to prescribe what the patient needed.”
“It reduces mistakes that occur because of ambiguity when using apps like WhatsApp where you have to be careful what you write due to confidentiality.”
– Vicky Jones, District Nurse at Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
“Previously we weren’t able to take photos and burns can be very difficult to describe over the phone. However, it’s far easier to communicate what a burn looks like with a photo which we can also assess remotely on Pando which has been good during COVID”
– Andrew Kilshaw, Plastic Surgery Registrar at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
“There are four of us in the Nutrition team and we used to all go to see each patient, but because of COVID we now go in twos and take photos of the notes and charts, send them on Pando and get advice from the rest of the team. It’s great to get other peoples views on things without them physically having to be there. This way, regardless of how busy they are, we are more likely to get their input, and much more quickly.”
Connecting community teams with hospital specialists digitally has helped reduce patient’s exposure to COVID-19, by removing the need for in person appointments.
“Pando has allowed staff and therefore patients in the community to get expert advice from hospital staff that specialise in that area, the care they receive in the community has improved, without having to come into hospital. This is great at reducing people’s exposure to COVID, so we only bring in the people who really need to, and our opinion of who needs to come in would vary from the community staff, so this is saving lots of people from coming in unnecessarily.”
– Alpa Lakhani, Podiatrist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
Group messaging is a simple but invaluable tool for disseminating information quickly.
“It was really simple and easy to use from the get go. The app became extremely useful during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at its peak. We were able to quickly get COVID updates, efficiently and frequently. We had a small issue at the time as only 100 people were able to join one team, but the Pando Team were quick to sort it all out for us, so that all 300 of us could join the team!”
“Pando really helped with providing task allocations, and organising beds! Our long term plan is for business managers to have a team in order to control allocation of beds. It has been really really useful for organisation.”
– Gina Blake, Operating Department Practitioner working in colorectal at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust
“In these uncertain times, we have to find different ways to communicate and work. Pando has been an absolute blessing.”
“Large medical teams can communicate, and we instantly know who’s off sick (off sick staff can put themselves as unavailable). We’ve also been able to deliver specialist input, remotely, to ward patients using the ask advice feature.”
“Personally I’m really happy we had this up and running before the pandemic started, it’s been extremely useful. I’m self isolating, but through the app I can keep my team in loop, and they me. We run remote/virtual huddles.”
– Dr Archana Rao, Consultant Dermatologist at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
When a difficult job becomes even more arduous and dangerous, separating work and home life is extremely important for staff wellbeing.
When work has been as intense as it has been in 2020, it is incredibly important to put staff’s mental health and wellbeing first.
Pando’s ‘Availability Toggle’ allows for staff to turn off from work. No push notifications on their mobile and staff only accessing Pando when they know they need to e.g. when on shift. This simply separates Personal and Work messages, leading to a better balance.
“Moving away from WhatsApp to separate work and personal life has been so important. Now a day off is a day off – the importance of having a proper rest day has never been more important since new working practices during COVID. This has been positively impactful on the team’s wellbeing and resilience. With COVID we’ve been messaging constantly and when you see a message you instantly want to help even when it’s your day off or you’re unwell. Pando completely stops them from seeing these messages so they can switch off. With the availability toggle I can easily see when someone’s off work, so I know not to contact them and instead message someone who’s available.”
– Jen Throp, Occupational Therapy Clinical Service Manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Interested in how Pando can support your team’s communication during the Pandemic?
Contact our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org