Live Virtual Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2020

Getting the message across - communication skills to improve patient outcomes  (#107)

Fran Boyle 1
  1. Pam McLean Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

During COVID, there has been an explosion in the use of phone and video consultations for cancer patients in Australia. Video has also been extensively used for multidisciplinary team to ensure safety of Health Professionals. Whilst overall feedback has been positive, both patients and clinicians have identified training needs when using the virtual space. Fatigue is also a common concern, as cognitive load is higher when interpreting cues over video. The burden of preparation also falls heavily on radiology and pathology departments.

Pam McLean Centre utilises the insights of psychology, drama and screen acting skills, and clinical medicine to develop communication training programs for cancer clinicians. During 2020, these have been modified to be deliverable remotely, including the use of video cues, actors “in the zoom” group, and online self-directed learning modules.

Advice for clinicians in optimising the use of video in telehealth includes:

  1. Setting up the camera at eye level, at arms’ length from your seat, allowing you room to move from side to side and use your hands.
  2. Ensuring that light is on your face, not behind you, and that your eyes are visible through glasses.
  3. Using headphones with a microphone to ensure better sound.
  4. Making efforts to express empathy, using emotional words, touch of self, and eye contact with the camera at points of intense contact (although not all the time).
  5. Taking care that the background behind you is professional, non-threatening, and is similar to what a patient would see in the clinic.
  6. Ensuring privacy at both ends, taking particular care if you are in an open plan office. It is not appropriate to ask a patient to reveal a body part in this context!