Lucy Funnell’s advice for smooth virtual clinics with NuvoAir Home

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Lucy Funnell has a very specific job at the adult CF Center at Royal Brompton NHS Trust. She is a CF physiotherapist who is the Digital Implementation Lead, a role that has supported the successful implementation of virtual clinics. She’s here to tell us more about her dedicated role, how it emerged, and her tips for a successful transition to virtual care needed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What does your role entail?

My main role is to be the continuous link between patients, doctors and NuvoAir. I schedule virtual meetings, onboard, and train patients to get them ready with the technology and also support the clinical team in working with the portal and patient data. I serve as a single point of contact to support both end users of the technology, the patients and clinic team members, with any technical issues that arise. I find that as soon as things get hard, it’s easy for people to disengage. I want people to have a positive experience, because that’s how we will learn and grow and develop a smooth running service. So far, we have over 400 adult patients onboard. We use social media to share videos and tips to help support our patients further.

How did your position come about?

In the beginning, there was no job description, just a vision. The job was too large to be a side project for one of our team members, it needed a dedicated person.

How are virtual clinics conducted at the Royal Brompton adult CF Center?

Currently, we schedule patients for video meetings with doctors. All our doctors have access to the NuvoAir portal. Doctors send their patients a link to a video meeting via the NuvoAir portal. A day or so before, patients have a telephone meeting with a physiotherapist and dietician, who also prompt patients to do their home spirometry tests before they meet their doctor.

Any tips for clinics working with NuvoAir Platform enabled virtual clinics?

My key piece of advice is to engage with your patients and clinical teams. Change can be daunting but be open and honest about the process. For us it has been a continuous learning project. Ideas have been generated from patient and clinician focus groups that we work towards.

Engage with wider teams. For us this was our procurement team, administrative team, and IT departments. They know their systems well and were best placed to help us when we had hurdles to overcome. Involve them from the beginning and ask for help so when things get sticky, everyone is more prepared.

We set up a terms of use agreement with our patients. We have over 500 adults with CF, so we needed to ensure that people have access to the technology and that they are given the same information. A key message for us is that it is still the patients’ responsibility to contact us or seek medical help if they notice their health data is out of their normal range or if they are feeling unwell. Health data shared is reviewed during virtual clinics and allows for more open and honest conversations.

We also developed our own in-house document about how to set up the technology. The in-app instructions are easy to follow but sometimes having an additional information sheet can be helpful. We provide our direct contact details so patients know who to contact if they need help.

Finally, be prepared and don’t be disappointed when things don’t quite work or when hiccups happen. Changing services is never a smooth process, and there will be things that pop up that you had never prepared for (COVID-19!), but if the entire team is engaged, the patients are informed, and documents and pathways are in place, many of the issues can be overcome and even improve the service being delivered.