A webinar which asks clinical and industry leaders to reflect on their experiences of delivering virtual assessments during the pandemic has been released by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA).

Panellists in the final webisode of a series considered how the world of assistive technology moves forward with video assessments. With the world starting to return to normal, and in-person appointments taking place, how do we strike a balance between virtual assessments and face-to-face consultations?

Chaired by BHTA’s Head of Policy, Bill Lee, the panel consisted of Matthew James, Director of Precision Rehab; Rachel Russel, Senior Regional Advisor for Foundations UK; Clare Barber, Professional Services Manager at Disabled Living Foundation (DLF); Julie Blake, Senior Clinical Manager at NRS Healthcare; James Bennett, Sales and Marketing Director at Care & Independence; and Nash Kumar, Director at Higher Elevation.

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This latest webisode follows the previous session, where the assistive technology panel discussed what could have been done differently and why when doing virtual assessments for assistive technology, drawing on current knowledge.

In the fifth and final webisode, Clare Barber, Professional Services Manager at DLF, said that she would continue to use video assessments as a ‘pre-assessment’ meeting to ensure that assessors visit the client with the correct provisions.

Discussing using and handling product assessments, she commented: “Where the blended approach comes in you could do a pre-environmental view, where you could learn more about the person and have conversations with carers.

“You could potentially size up the person and take a selection of slings with you when you do an assessment.

From a supplier’s point of view, Matthew James, Director of Precision Rehab, makes the point that businesses can save time and money by using a blended approach between virtual and face-to-face assessments.

Matthew says that he uses video assessments to view a client after an OT has sent all of the relevant information, photographs and measurements over to himself. Where he used to go and visit the client with products that might be suitable, he now has a virtual appointment with the client to ensure that he takes suitable product recommendations, which has become a part of the company’s service.

He commented: “We’ve added the virtual assessment as pretty much a part of our service now, just purely because it saves us going a long way to find out that ‘we needed the other product that isn’t with me today’. It is limiting us going out and doing unnecessary work.”

Nash Kumar, Director at Higher Elevation, further added that virtual assessments can be great for follow ups and service reviews.

He said: “Because we follow up between three to six months for the first service, we follow it back up with any minor adjustments etc.”

Matthew, in agreement, added: “We can do a seating review or even an annual service virtually where our engineers might say: ‘Can you just walk around your chair quickly and briefly? Or, ‘can I look at your tyre?’

“Just videoing small bits we know that the guy needs batteries, tyres and other bits and pieces.”

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