Can virtual meetings replace face-to-face time in ICU?

Research Area
Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) policy, government enforced regulations and movement restrictions have made traditional face-to-face visiting and family meetings in RBWH Intensive Care Unit extremely difficult during COVID-19. Family visitors for non-COVID patients are limited to two visitors per day, while visitors for patients with COVID-19 are prohibited from visiting under any circumstances.

To overcome this, RBWH used technology to enable virtual meetings for visiting and information sharing for the first time.

This research grant aims to survey 250 family members and 100 healthcare workers about their experience and satisfaction with virtual communication. As there is little literature available regarding virtual visiting and virtual family meetings, there is an urgent need to explore this topic and ensure the healthcare service is supporting both patient and their families at this critical time.

The future impact is substantial as the RBWH caters for a large portion of people living greater than 15 kilometres from the hospital. With potentially new economic hardship, continued fluidity and changes to local hospital policy, and the state of domestic and international travel remaining unknown, virtual applications may positively impact and support the ICU patient and their family by offering an opportunity for access and communication despite geographical location.

It is hypothesised that virtual meetings will assist all ICU patients and family members to feel supported through a very difficult time.

Bryan Gregory
Clinical Nurse Consultant, Clinical Innovation, Intensive Care Services
Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital

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