Web-based videoconferencing for rural palliative care consultation with elderly patients at home.


Palliative Care Consult Service - Rural, Calgary Zone, Alberta Health Services, 11 Cimarron Common, Okotoks, Alberta, T1S 2E9, Canada. [Email]


OBJECTIVE : Providing specialized palliative care support to elderly patients in rural areas can be challenging. The purpose of this study was to gain a preliminary understanding of the experience of using mobile web-based videoconferencing (WBVC) for conducting in-home palliative care consults with elderly rural patients with life-limiting illness.
METHODS : This was a descriptive, exploratory, proof-of-concept study with a convenience sample of 10 WBVC visits. A palliative care clinical nurse specialist (PC-CNS), in the home with the patient/family and home care nurse (HC-N), used a laptop computer with webcam and speakerphone to connect to a distant palliative care physician consultant (PC-MD) over a secure Internet connection. Data was collected using questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups.
RESULTS : Analysis of qualitative data revealed four themes: communication, logistics, technical issues, and trust. Participants reported they were comfortable discussing concerns by WBVC and felt it was an acceptable and convenient way to address needs. Audiovisual quality was not ideal but was adequate for communication. Use of WBVC improved access and saved time and travel. Fears were expressed about lack of security of information transmitted over the Internet.
CONCLUSIONS : Using WBVC for in-home palliative care consults could be an acceptable, effective, feasible, and efficient way to provide timely support to elderly rural patients and their families. Having a health care provider in the home during the WBVC is beneficial. WBVC visits have advantages over telephone calls, but limitations compared to in-person visits, suggesting they be an alternative but not replacement for in-person consultations.


Elderly,Home care,Palliative care consultation,Rural,Telehealth,Videoconference,

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