Here we present a low-cost widely accessible technological solution to enable video-linking of teaching, using infrastructure available at most hospitals.
Our trust is spread across multiple sites. Core Medical Training (CMT) mandatory teaching sessions are held at the main hospital site every Thursday from 1410 to 1530. 25% of CMT Trainees are based at other sites with a 50-minute roundtrip commute to attend teaching. This had led to:
Reduced SHO cover on the wards.
Trainees leaving work late in order to complete remaining clinical work after teaching.
Trainees missing mandatory training when clinical demand is high.
All of these ultimately impact negatively on patient safety.
We identified Google Hangouts as a free solution that allowed for the transmission of live teaching slides and voice to any computer on the trust, without the need for additional hardware or software installation. We created a permanent video conference using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Unhangout platform. This overcame the need to coordinate video calls at the start of the session, instead participants can join in at any time. To ensure vendor neutrality, we found that Cisco’s Webex was a suitable alternative platform with similar strengths to our existing set up. We next invested in two USB conference speakerphones (usable on any computer) at a cost of £100 to improve interactivity and sound quality between sites.
We demonstrated that teaching attendance increased after each intervention. Attendance was found to be at its lowest when the video-link was chosen not to be used for teaching sessions. Trainees reported that this project enabled them to attend teaching, leave work on time and felt it improved patient safety. Future applications of our setup includes opening the video platform to any computer or mobile device, enabling streaming of teaching regardless of trainee location.
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