Eleanor completed her pharmacy internship at Bundaberg Base Hospital before taking a full-time position as a clinical pharmacist at Thursday Island Hospital. Following this, she worked in community pharmacy whilst undertaking a Masters in Pharmaceutical Public Health. She now works as a clinical services specialist for NPS MedicineWise, providing quality use of medicines and medical test education to health professionals in Townsville, Mackay and surrounds. Eleanor works with students at James Cook University and Monash University on a casual basis doing tutoring, marking and as a volunteer patient. She enjoys supporting health professionals at all stages improve patient outcomes.
Virtual visiting: Using technology to provide personalised educational experiences
Sunday 2 September | View program for more details
Background | NPS MedicineWise is an independent, evidence-based, not-for-profit organisation providing accredited education on quality use of medicines and medical tests to health professionals across Australia. Since 1999 NPS MedicineWise has provided face to face visits but following a successful pilot of visits via video conference, virtual visits are now being utilised to increase the accessibility of education.
Pilot Trial | Each year, NPS MedicineWise Clinical Services Specialists (CSS) travel across metropolitan, regional and rural Australia providing education to over 12,000 general practitioners (GPs). Due to the busy nature of general practice there are GPs that miss out on face to face visits when CSS come to their workplace. Repeat visits to the same practice are often limited by time and financial barriers.
In 2017, a six month pilot of virtual visiting using video conferencing technology was undertaken. GPs who had previously participated in face to face visits and were located more than one hour’s drive from the CSS were invited to participate. During the pilot 67 visits were conducted with 117 GPs. Feedback was gathered from GPs and CSS for evaluation. There was a 13% survey response rate from GPs. Of respondents, 87% were entirely satisfied with the activity and 60% thought the mode of delivery was entirely suitable.
Current Practice | Since the pilot trial, 138 visits have been completed with 250 GPs (to May 2018), 16 of these visits have been in the Northern Queensland PHN region, with more scheduled. It has allowed isolated practitioners (e.g. Bamaga, Thursday Island and Collinsville) who might otherwise have missed out to access this personalised education.
Evaluation of virtual visits is ongoing. For the 2017/18 financial year to May, from 29 returned surveys, the majority of respondents (89%) were entirely satisfied with the overall visit and thought the mode of delivery was entirely suitable. In terms of being entirely satisfied with the visit the results are similar (87% vs 89%) but many more respondents now think that the mode of delivery is entirely suitable (60% vs 89%).
Although initially designed for rural and remote GPs, special interest has been shown by GPs on parental leave or working part time, including those in Metropolitan areas, as the meetings can be conducted from any location and at a more flexible time. The range of video conferencing technology used to conduct virtual visits has expanded to meet the needs of GPs, from pilots being conducted via Skype for Business to now utilising Facetime, Scopia and state health department video conferencing technology as well.
Conclusion | NPS MedicineWise plans to continue offering virtual visits alongside traditional face to face visits to ensure that health professionals across Australia, including the Northern Queensland PHN region, can access personalised, up-to-date education no matter where they live.