#OTalk 12 November 2019 – How can occupational therapists use digital technology and apps to enhance practice?

This week’s chat will be hosted by #OTalk team member Clarissa (@geekyOT), who works as an occupational therapist on a personality disorder ward in a medium secure forensic unit. After more than 10 years of working in mental health, Clarissa has recently started a new role with the secure messaging app for healthcare professionals, Forward

A few weeks ago, my GP phoned me and asked me to go to Accident & Emergency (A&E). She said that she wanted me to be seen by a specialist, who she had tried to contact via switchboard a few times without success. She assured me that she had written a letter that should help me get seen quicker, and asked me to come to the surgery to pick it up. I explained that the detour would add an hour to my journey, and asked whether she could e-mail me the letter so I could print it out. That wasn’t an option. I asked her to e-mail it to A&E, and, keen to avoid a long journey when I was already feeling unwell, I even offered to phone A&E and ask for their e-mail address. 

Long story short: that didn’t work, and I ended up jumping in an Uber to pick up the printed letter from my GP after all. 

The A&E doctor assessed me and paged a specialist. No response. He tried again. Nothing. 

“This could take a while,” he said, glancing back at the phone on his desk. 

Wishing time away, I scrolled through the apps on my phone. Apps for communication. Apps for productivity. Apps to track all aspects of my health and lifestyle. Make life easier. Save time. And I imagined how much time could have been saved had my GP been able to contact the specialist directly. (As it happens, it would have completely saved me a trip, saved valuable A&E time, and saved me cancelling half a day of sessions with my own patients)

Frustrated with the series of delays, I told the doctor that I’d been for an interview with Forward Health earlier that week. I said that the secure messaging app could have saved us all a lot of time, and explained that he could have sent a detailed message to his colleague (confidential information and all), rather than waiting around for the phone to ring. He asked if it’s secure (it is) and free (yup), and expressed his surprise that he had never heard of it before.

Click here to download the Forward app

This led me to think about how much more efficient and effective I, as an occupational therapist, could be if I had the right technology at my fingertips. The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a vision of digital transformation for the NHS. But, even with my interest in technology, I get so bogged down with the pressures of clinical work that I don’t keep up with new developments. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that. 

So, following on from last week’s research #OTalk about innovation, let’s spend some time this week thinking about practical ways we can use digital technology and apps in our work.

I’d like this to be a space where we can vent about very real frustrations, and also think freely and creatively about future possibilities. Technology is rapidly changing, so let’s not restrict ourselves to what we already know. 

Chat Questions

  • Which apps/digital technology do you already use to support you in your work?
  • What frustrations do you have in practice that could be improved if you had technology that’s fit-for-purpose?
  • What barriers limit the use of technology in your setting?
  • Do you use any apps for your own health/wellbeing/occupational balance?  
  • If you could instantly create any app to improve your work life, what features would it have?

Post Chat Update

The Numbers*

1.411m Impressions
341 Tweets
49 Participants

*Twitter data from the #OTalk hashtag from Tue, November 12th 2019, 8:00PM to Tue, November 12th 2019, 9:00PM (Europe/London) – Symplur