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NHS professionals’ shared decision making skills set for boost as ground-breaking new virtual reality training launches

NHS professionals across the country are set to benefit from a new virtual reality training offering that can improve shared decision making as research from almost 1500 health professionals shows many have gaps in their knowledge and would like to learn more.

Commissioned by NHS England, the innovation comes from the Personalised Care Institute in collaboration Keele University and has been developed to enable NHS professionals to master their skills in a non-pressured environment before applying them in real clinical settings.

The new virtual reality training tool is purportedly the first in the world to explore the fundamentals of the shared decision making skills behind agenda-setting, the teach-back method, evaluating patients’ treatment preferences and reaching a shared decision.

The new training works by breaking each consultation down into three key areas:

  • Introduction and understanding the patient’s history;
  • Investigating the patient’s preferred treatment options;
  • Reaching a shared decision.

The first two situations to be launched as part of the training experience include a telephone consultation with a father about his son’s sore throat and a face-to-face consultation centred around osteoarthritis. Scenarios around a bowel cancer referral and a discussion about the on-going use of antidepressants are also set to be rolled out in the coming months.

The Personalised Care Institute’s Clinical Director, Dr Emma Hyde, said: "We know that shared decision making leads to better outcomes for patients, with nine out of 10 healthcare professionals stating it should be used routinely and seven out of 10 expressing a desire to learn more about this vitally important personalised care approach.

“While research suggests that, currently, only one in three HCPs always practise shared decision making fully, the fact that perceived common barriers include lack of experience, confidence and time suggests that these could be quickly overcome with the opportunity to practise. 

“This free learning tool has been designed to provide health and care practitioners at every level with a quick and easy way to test and develop their personalised care conversation skills in a risk-free environment, without the pressure that comes with being observed, and through a tool that can be accessed as required, to facilitate repeat practice.

“Not only will this training, commissioned by NHS England, equip health and care professionals with the shared decision making skills and knowledge needed to deliver the very best health outcomes for patients, it will also address the growing desire amongst the general public for greater involvement in key decisions that inform their healthcare.”

Health professionals looking to test the new simulation can do so by clicking here.

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