Mobile Videoconferencing for Occupational Therapists’ Assessments of Patients’ Home Environments Prior to Hospital Discharge: Mixed Methods Feasibility and Comparative Study

JMIR Aging. 2022 Jul 5;5(3):e24376. doi: 10.2196/24376.


BACKGROUND: Occupational therapists who work in hospitals need to assess patients’ home environment in preparation for hospital discharge in order to provide recommendations (eg, technical aids) to support their independence and safety. Home visits increase performance in everyday activities and decrease the risk of falls; however, in some countries, home visits are rarely made prior to hospital discharge due to the cost and time involved. In most cases, occupational therapists rely on an interview with the patient or a caregiver to assess the home. The use of videoconferencing to assess patients’ home environments could be an innovative solution to allow better and more appropriate recommendations.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was (1) to explore the added value of using mobile videoconferencing compared with standard procedure only and (2) to document the clinical feasibility of using mobile videoconferencing to assess patients’ home environments.

METHODS: Occupational therapists assessed home environments using, first, the standard procedure (interview), and then, videoconferencing (with the help of a family caregiver located in patients’ homes, using an electronic tablet). We used a concurrent mixed methods design. The occupational therapist’s responsiveness to telehealth, time spent on assessment, patient’s occupational performance and satisfaction, and major events influencing the variables were collected as quantitative data. The perceptions of occupational therapists and family caregivers regarding the added value of using this method and the nature of changes made to recommendations as a result of the videoconference (if any) were collected as qualitative data, using questionnaires and semistructured interviews.

RESULTS: Eight triads (6 occupational therapists, 8 patients, and 8 caregivers) participated. The use of mobile videoconferencing generally led occupational therapists to modify the initial intervention plan (produced after the standard interview). Occupational therapists and caregivers perceived benefits in using mobile videoconferencing (eg, the ability to provide real-time comments or feedback), and they also perceived disadvantages (eg, videoconferencing requires additional time and greater availability of caregivers). Some occupational therapists believed that mobile videoconferencing added value to assessments, while others did not.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of mobile videoconferencing in the context of hospital discharge planning has raised questions of clinical feasibility. Although mobile videoconferencing provides multiple benefits to hospital discharge, including more appropriate occupational therapist recommendations, time constraints made it more difficult to perceive the added value. However, with smartphone use, interdisciplinary team involvement, and patient participation in the videoconference visit, mobile videoconferencing can become an asset to hospital discharge planning.


PMID:35787486 | DOI:10.2196/24376

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