TelePalliative Care has been urgently summoned to expand access to palliative care in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Here we answer the 5 most common questions about telepalliative care.
1. What is Telepalliative Care?
Telepalliative care is the remote delivery of palliative care using telehealth technology. Clinicians utilize video visits to provide palliative care to the patient and support to the caregiver. Telepalliative care consultations can be provided where the patient is located – whether in the hospital, in the nursing home, at the doctor’s office, or at home. It requires access to stable internet, a smart device – a computer, a tablet, or a phone with audio and video capabilities – and support to navigate the smart device.
2. Does Telepalliative Care work?
A growing body of evidence demonstrates that patients continue to receive excellent care through telepalliative care visits. Telepalliative care improves patient symptoms and caregiver access to clinicians. The majority of patients and caregivers appreciate the convenience of Telepalliative care, felt that they continued to receive great care, would schedule another telepalliative care visit, and would recommend it to others.
3. What are the advantages of Telepalliative Care?
Many patients and caregivers enjoy the convenience of a telepalliative care visit. Patients are only a click away from accessing palliative care experts. Patients don’t need to spend hours in transit and caregivers no longer have to take the day off to be part of the conversation – instead they can hop on a video-call from home or from work.
Patients benefit from a timely evaluation, assessment, and management of their concerns or symptoms.
Telepalliative care improves access and extends the reach of palliative care specialists, who are often concentrated in urban areas. Palliative care specialists can provide care in locations that are not typically within their geographic reach, helping populations who have struggled to access care.
4. How do I prepare for a Telepalliative Care visit?
Ensure you have access to a smart device with a camera and audio capability– ideally a computer, laptop, or tablet. A phone can work though the smaller screen may not ideal for a visit. The device should be connected to stable internet. If the visit is going to take place through an application like Zoom, make sure you have downloaded the application on to your device. If the visit takes place through a patient portal, ensure you have access to your patient portal. For those who may not be as comfortable with technology ask family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues for assistance.
Minimize distractions by choosing a quiet, private space, for your visit. Place your camera at eye level and center your face on the screen – you may need to raise your device by placing a couple books underneath. Ensure that the light is on your face – if the light source, like a window, is behind you this will make it very hard to see your face properly. One of the benefits of Telepalliative Care visits is that you are inviting us into your space, so introduce us to anyone else that is in the room with you – whether human or animal!
5. How do I schedule a Telepalliative Care Visit?
Currently, EpioneMD offers our Clarifying Conversation Coaching service. This is a one on one, personalized, virtual coaching session to help you explore what is most important to you or your loved ones. Our coaches will empower you to develop your own advanced care plan, navigate the healthcare system, and cope with the stress of illness.
We are looking to partner with hospitals, healthcare systems, primary and subspecialty care doctors, and nursing homes to bring Telepalliative care to those who are struggling to access care. So, stay tuned!
In the meantime, ask your primary care or subspecialty doctor for a referral to a palliative care specialist or search the database to find a specialist near you.