Infection control protocols, including visitor restrictions, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the ability to provide compassionate, family-centered care to patients dying in the hospital. In response, clinicians used videoconferencing technology to facilitate conversations between patients and their families.
To understand clinicians’ perspectives on using videoconferencing technology to adapt to pandemic policies when caring for dying patients.
A qualitative descriptive study was conducted with 45 clinicians who provided end-of-life care to patients in 3 acute care units at an academically affiliated urban hospital in Canada during the first wave of the pandemic (March 2020-July 2020). A 3-step approach to conventional content analysis was used to code interview transcripts and construct overarching themes.
Clinicians used videoconferencing technology to try to bridge gaps in end-of-life care by facilitating connections with family. Many benefits ensued, but there were also some drawbacks. Despite the opportunity for connection offered by virtual visits, participants noted concerns about equitable access to videoconferencing technology and authenticity of technology-assisted interactions. Participants also offered recommendations for future use of videoconferencing technology both during and beyond the pandemic.
Clinician experiences can be used to inform policies and practices for using videoconferencing technology to provide high-quality end-of-life care in the future, including during public health crises.