A project by the North Central London Cancer Alliance and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and published in BMJ Open has resulted in a toolkit for running virtual and hybrid cancer multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings.
The toolkit is valuable for cancer teams in any hospital and will help MDT members to run and participate in meetings effectively to produce the best possible outcomes for patients.
The National Cancer Plan (2000) mandates that all patients living with cancer in the UK should have their care reviewed by an MDT. Traditionally most MDT meetings were held face to face. Increasingly however, MDTs are adopting remote technologies to run meetings virtually. The COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing accelerated this shift. Running meetings in this form brings challenges as well as opportunities.
Dr Daisy McInnerney, research fellow in behavioural science at QMUL, who co-led the study, said: “Cancer multi-disciplinary team meetings are critical for gold-standard, equitable care. Although online meetings are great for flexible working, MDTs were experiencing challenges that posed real threats to the quality of clinical decisions made in these meetings. These included IT failures, changes to team communication and disruption to existing workflows.
“Our evidence-based toolkit is designed to help cancer MDT members overcome these challenges and capitalise on the opportunities of virtual meetings. It has a series of practical recommendations and checklists that cancer MDT leads and members can use to plan and conduct their meetings, with simple guidance on how to optimise their online communication.”
Research carried out over 18 months during the pandemic and included meeting observations, interviews with clinical leads for a range of cancers, and a national survey of members of MDTs.
Donna Chung, project lead at the North Central London Cancer Alliance, said: “MDT meetings place such an important part in providing patients with the best possible personalised care. Guidance for planning and running virtual and hybrid meetings effectively will help teams to keep their focus on patients. We were pleased to partner with QMUL in capturing the impact the pandemic had on this area of cancer care. The toolkit has best tips gathered from colleagues across England on how MDTs can embed new ways of teamworking beyond COVID.”
The research behind the toolkit is published by BMJ Open.