Technology. Finding the Lync between work and home.

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by Joanna Teece, Dietitian, NHS Fife

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Does this sound familiar? I use technology to link and communicate with others all the time outside of work, without giving it a second thought, but it still seems a challenge at work. How do we bridge the divide between technology we have at work, compared to what we have at home?

Maybe it’s the jargon; Jabber, Lync, VC link, e-health were all alien words to me. Maybe it’s the fear; as an experienced health professional, who others may view as a leader or expert, it’s sometimes hard to be out of your comfort zone and admit it’s all really new and strange. A case of the blind leading the blind! Or perhaps it’s the worry of professionalism. The Health and Care Professions Council have strict guidance on our code of conduct and the world of twittersphere and e-health seem fraught with challenges. Making time in a busy clinical environment, with many competing pressures, finding time to take out to use and become comfortable with new technologies is hard to do and justify in work.

I’ve been on a journey to start to become more comfortable and knowledgeable about e-health and technology at work. I’m definitely a newbie and it’s exciting the potential and enthusiasm from other AHPs and colleagues in NHS Fife.

rc-ipadI’m not really sure what sparked my interest. About six months ago a colleague retired and by being in the right place at the right time, I was assigned her iPad. This was the easy bit as an iPad was familiar to me. I thought this is great. I can use it to access e-mail at home and as well as at work (the novelty soon wore off). I took it along to meetings rather than printing off reams of minutes and agendas. I felt like I’d arrived in life! I knew other colleagues had iPads so I decided to scope how we were using iPads within the department. As I was doing this, one of our Clinical Leads was able to share her experience of the NMAHP (Nurses, midwives, and Allied Health Professionals) e-health leadership programme run by NHS Education for Scotland (NES). She invited anyone interested within the Dietetic department to join a local virtual e-health group. The use of ipads for clinical delivery was happening across AHPs and I was keen to find out more.

LinkingThe virtual clinical e-health group looked great; the minutes from the meetings were discussing similar topics I was interested in. I decided to put the date in my diary. Then came the next hurdle. I needed Lync in order to join the meeting as it was virtual. No idea what this was. I knew it wasn’t a deodorant with a similar name and was spelt Lync not link. Turns out it was the little green box and button that had been sitting in the background on my computer desktop every time I had logged on. I felt the best way to cement Lync in my head was to think of it like Skype but for work.  It has similar functions, you can instant message, do voice or audio calls and something new to me was also the option to visually share documents with each other during a conversation. I needed a headset so I could hear the chat and a little camera also appeared on my desktop screen. Cue lots of concern about how do we know when it’s on or off. I had a fun but slightly fraught half hour practicing using Lync, talking into the headset, trying to get the camera to work to call my colleagues upstairs. The choice was then endless, should I walk upstairs to ask them a question, phone them, email them, instant message them or audio/ voice call via Lync! And the best thing for me about Lync, I’m loving that is has all the “Emoji” smiley faces and thumbs up that I’m so familiar with from Facebook and my smart phone.

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Screen shot of Lync in action- Fiona peer reviewing this blog

The NHS Fife virtual e-health group first met in January 2016. Carolyn McDonald, Associate Director AHPs NHS Fife worked with Fiona Millar, Children and Young People’s Occupational Therapist to establish the first virtual meeting. The group has 14 members with six different AHP groups represented, who together span a wide range of specialties. On average seven are able to attend each meeting with five meetings being held to date.

The group is refreshing in many ways in that is has a less formal format. There is no set agenda or allocated chair prior to the meeting, but on the day the group agrees a chair and minute taker. It works well as a forum for sharing good practice. Progress, minutes and action points are circulated after each meeting.

Fiona reflected upon the group. “It has been great to meet with others that are interested and passionate about e-health.  Using Microsoft Lync allows us to participate from our desk so no one has to travel across Fife, saving both time and resource in relation to mileage. We share knowledge and experience and support each other in our e-health journeys.”

6Locally, NHS Fife is held an Allied Health Professions e-health sharing event on 20th September.  Fiona will be presented at this event about how AHPs in NHS Fife are leading the way in the use of Lync technology. Staff were also be able to Lync into the presentations on the day from other sites in NHS Fife.

Lync is not only used in NHS Fife, with calls able to be made to the Health and Social Care partnership and across boards.  So please speak to your local e-health department to enquire about options in your area – it really is the way forward and cuts out travel time, saving your organsiation money and leaving you more time for patient care.

If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact myself (Joanna.teece@nhs.net) or Fiona (f.millar@nhs.net).

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