Distance is not a barrier: the use of videoconferencing to develop a community of practice

Published date14 January 2019
Date14 January 2019
AuthorRuairi Page,Fiona Hynes,James Reed
Distance is not a barrier: the use
of videoconferencing to develop
a community of practice
Ruairi Page, Fiona Hynes and James Reed
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the use of videoconferencing to deliver a post-graduate
education programme in forensic mental services by video-conference across three sites in a large urban
centre and develop a forensic community of practice.
Design/methodology/approach This paper describes the setting up of the programme, equipment used,
the challenges and evaluation of a teaching programme delivered using technology-enhanced education.
Findings This forward thinking mechanism of delivery of education has propelled multi-disciplinary and
multi-site discussion with the formation of a community of practice.
Research limitations/implications Additional skills are demanded of clinicians including familiarisation
with the equipment and an awareness of the restrictions in communication using videoconferencing.
Practical implications The use of technology has facilitated delivery of a learning programme within our
services. Practical benefits are readily evident with increased accessibility, cost and travel savings.
Social implications The greatest benefit has been the development of a virtual community allowing peer
support, an extended peer review and network development.
Originality/value The paper describes use of technology to support delivery of a post-graduate forensic
mental health training programme.
Keywords Technology, Community of practice, Medical education, Videoconferencing
Paper type General review
We now live in a digital age with technological innovation moving forward at a rapidly moving
pace. Video-conferencing technology (communication between multiple sites using
simultaneous audio and visual transmission) has evolved rapidly from being expensive and
inaccessible to now being cheap and readily available. Healthcare services have embraced these
advancing technologies as they have become increasingly user acceptable, readily available and
deliver cost savings as evidenced by the growth of tele-psychiatry (the delivery of clinical care
using technology). Use in remote locations is well evidenced (Curran et al., 2007) and it has
extended to include carer education (Haley et al., 2011) and supervision of staff (Heckner and
Giard, 2005). The use of tele-psychiatry in community settings in the UK has not been particularly
developed in contrast to the USA (Shore, 2013) but there has been a significant uptake of
tele-psychiatry in UK forensic care settings (Khalifa et al., 2008) where it is used to facilitate
remote assessment of patients, and support distant court appearances. Indeed the use of live
linkis recognised in statute (Section 57A-57E Crime and Disorder Act, 1998) for pre-trial and
sentencing hearings where the defendant is in custody or at a police station.
Video technology has the benefits of improving educational programmes, promoting
attendance and inv olvement, whilst a lso adding a cost effec tive benefit to teac hing
programmes, in par ticular due to facil itators and partic ipants being requ ired to travel
considerable dis tances to attend.
Received 31 October 2016
Revised 13 April 2018
25 October 2018
Accepted 25 October 2018
The authors wish to acknowledge
the support of Dr Jayne Greening,
Associate Medical Director,
Medical Education, Birmingham
and Solihull Mental Health NHS
Foundation Trust, Simon Fell,
Senior IT Support Technician
and Mark Thornton,
Telecommunications Supervisor,
Birmingham and Solihull Mental
Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Ruairi Page is based at The
Hatherton Centre, Midlands
Partnership NHS Foundation
Trust, Stafford, UK.
Fiona Hynes is based at the
Reaside Clinic, Birmingham
and Solihull Mental Health NHS
Foundation Trust,
Birmingham, UK.
James Reed is based at the
Tamarind Centre, Birmingham
and Solihull Mental Health NHS
Foundation Trust,
Birmingham, UK.
VOL. 14 NO. 1 2019, pp.12-19, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1755-6228 DOI 10.1108/JMHTEP-10-2016-0052

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