Telehealth visits more than doubled in March 2020, and this has been a welcomed change as doctors rated is the very promising tech during COVID-19. But this also presented clinicians with the biggest test of distributing compassionate care into practice so as to ensure patients are given appropriate care even in the most complex scenarios. Experts discussed how clinicians can continue to deliver excellent care, despite the challenges of tumultuous pathways, together with the required level of compassion throughout the’Combining Digital with Compassionate Care’ session in the HIMSS21 European Health Conference on 9 June.
The speakers were: Dr Alec Price-Forbes, consultant rheumatologist and direct for EPR (UHCW and CCIO for Coventry and Warwickshire’s Health and Care Partnership (STP); Dr Christie Watson, professor of Medical and Health Humanities, University of East Anglia, UK; Dr Allan Wardhaugh, clinical lead, national clinical frame, office of chief health officer, Welsh Government, UK; Dr Franka Cadée, president, International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Netherlands; and Ms Kathy-Anne Sienko, executive director for Nursing Affairs, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Saudi Arabia.
COVID-19 hastens healthcare
“I think my learning has been twofold. So firstly, this is all about humanity. It’s all about people and relationships,” explained Dr Price-Forbes.
“From March to June, I think people suddenly realised and appreciated their own mortality. There was an outpouring, I think, of recognition of that, which expressed itself with compassion, acts of kindness that were both visible and not visible.”
However, Dr Price-Forbes worried:”My concern is that we need to learn from that and move forward. Because […] the inequalities have been large. It’s about that 80/20 rule, we need to be enabling the 80% to move on and equip them if you will, with digital literacy and skills and information, particularly from a health and care perspective, to enable us to start really supporting and dealing with the challenge to society for that 20%, who have really suffered as a consequence of the pandemic.”
Leadership’s role in modelling compassionate care
Discussing the valuable function of leadership in boosting compassionate care, Dr Watson said:”I think that compassionate leadership has become more important than ever. Regardless of whatever is going on structurally, organisationally and politically, I think that role modelling is really, really important.
“People do appear to leaders concerning how to act, what care they need to have to their coworkers, but also things such as self-care and wellbeing, which I think in the UK, particularly we are somewhat suspicious of.
“We are about to see, and already seeing a tsunami of mental health problems within our industry, within medical professionals, both nurses and doctors and allied health professionals. People have seen things and smelled things and touch things and been in situations in the last year that they’ve never ever had to face and no person should ever have to face.”
Humanising birth practices
Dr Cadée highlighted the ways technology has assisted midwives to get through the pandemic, and also how it enabl