Best practice management of the hemiplegic upper limb: Utilising telehealth to provide education to allied health clinicians in regional Victoria

Ms Jan Quiney1

1 Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria

Aims: To develop, implement and evaluate an upper limb management course for regional clinicians using telehealth videoconferencing technologies.
Methods: A pre-existing upper limb management course, with both lecture and practical components, was modified for delivery to regional settings. Regional clinical ‘champions’ were identified and attended training to deliver the practical components of the course prior to the telehealth course. The course presenters delivered the lectures and facilitated the course in real time via telehealth from Melbourne. The practical components were completed simultaneously at respective sites by the regional ‘champions’. Participant feedback was collected following the course and at 3-months follow-up and compared to prior courses run on-site at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Results: The upper limb management course was successfully implemented simultaneously at three regional sites, involved the training of 12 regional ‘champions’ and 51 regional course participants. Participant feedback showed high level of satisfaction with the telehealth course; however, several scores were lower than those obtained from prior face-to-face courses, related to presentation quality and course facilities. Three month evaluation demonstrated a change in utilisation of hemiplegic upper limb management modalities.
Significance of the findings to Allied Health:
This study highlights the challenge of delivering clinical education via telehealth for allied health clinicians. The practical components and skill development were reliant on the ‘champions’ to deliver and limited any feedback the experts could provide towards the participants’ performance. Face-to-face delivery of the course was rated more positively compared to the telehealth version by participants and the expert educators in regards to quality for most of the presentations. These findings provide further opportunity to modify the course, to better meet the needs of regional physiotherapists and occupational therapists. A phase 2 study is currently underway.