A national strategy is required to ensure neurological care service providers are adequately resourced to deliver online services. That’s according to a report published today by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI)
‘Looking Beyond Covid-19: Embracing Digital Solutions to Neurological Care’ is based on surveys and interviews of service-users and providers about their experiences of delivering online care during the pandemic.
The Report found that neurological care providers are delivering on average 60 per cent of their services online, compared to 8 per cent pre-Covid. However, 47 per cent of patients are not being reached online.
National strategy for online care
Commenting today, Magdalen Rogers NAI Executive Director, said: “The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw the beginning of a rapid and unprecedented move to deliver online services and supports across neurological care services. Within a very short timeframe, people with neurological conditions were accessing hospital appointments, physiotherapy sessions, support groups and information through their laptop or smartphone.
“Neurological care providers adapted exceptionally well throughout the pandemic to deliver these services online. However, if online services are to remain, we need a national, coordinated approach to the provision of online healthcare, recognising the resources required in terms of equipment, expertise, and dedicated staffing to provide these services. Up to 50 per cent of patients were not availing of online services. We need to understand and address the barriers that prevent people accessing online care if they want to.
“The Report shows that technological barriers are a real issue for both patients and staff when it comes to delivering online care. Service providers reported a lack of appropriate IT equipment and poor broadband as key factors affecting their ability to deliver online care. This needs to be addressed as part of a new national strategy for the delivery of online neurological care services.”
The NAI has stated that patients must be central to the debate on online healthcare. The Report found that 74 per cent of service users would like a combination of face to face and online services going forward.
Magdalen Rogers added: “We certainly see a role for online services remaining post-Covid. The Report findings show online services provide flexibility for patients. Only 20 per cent of patients surveyed for our Report would prefer to get all their services and supports face to face rather than online.
“Patients should be enabled to have real choices about how their care is delivered and should not be disenfranchised by the use of digital technology in providing services. We want to see a hybrid model of care, where patients can choose between face to face or online care depending on what suits their circumstances best.
“However, this is contingent upon a national strategy being in place where service providers have the appropriate level of resource to provide effective and accessible online services.”
The ‘Looking Beyond Covid-19: Embracing Digital Solutions to Neurological Care’ report can be viewed here.
Further information is available at www.nai.ie