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Communication tools in the COVID-19 era and beyond which can optimise professional practice and patient care
  1. Keiran David Clement1,2,
  2. Eleanor F Zimmermann1,3,
  3. Nikita R Bhatt1,4,
  4. Alexander Light1,5,
  5. Chuanyu Gao1,6,
  6. Meghana Kulkarni1,7,
  7. Joseph M Norris1,8,
  8. Kevin M J Gallagher1,9,
  9. William A Cambridge1,10,
  10. Taimur T Shah1,11,
  11. Hari L Ratan12,
  12. Daron Smith13,
  13. Veeru Kasivisvanathan1,8
  1. 1 BURST Research Collaborative, BURST (British Urology Researchers in Surgical Training) Research Collaborative, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Urology, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, UK
  3. 3 Department of Urology, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Torquay, UK
  4. 4 Department of Urology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, King's Lynn, UK
  5. 5 Department of Urology, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bedford, UK
  6. 6 Department of Urology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  7. 7 Department of Urology, Guy's and Saint Thomas' Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK
  8. 8 UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, University College London, London, UK
  9. 9 Department of Urology, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
  10. 10 University of Edinburgh Medical School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK
  11. 11 Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK
  12. 12 Department of Urology, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
  13. 13 Department of Urology, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Keiran David Clement, Department of Urology, University Hospital Monklands, Airdrie ML6 0JS, Scotland, UK; keiranclement{at}


Following the outbreak of the novel SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), the World Health Organization made a number of recommendations regarding the utilisation of healthcare services. In general, there has been a reduction in elective healthcare services including outpatient clinics, diagnostic services and elective surgery. Inevitably these reductions for all but the most urgent clinical work will have a detrimental impact on patients, and alternative ways of working including the use of telemedicine may help to mitigate this. Similarly, electronic solutions may enable clinicians to maintain inter and intra-professional working in both clinical and academic settings. Implementation of electronic solutions to minimise direct patient contact will be new to many clinicians, and the sheer number of software solutions available and varying functionality may be overwhelming to anyone unfamiliar with ‘virtual communication’. In this article, we will aim to summarise the variety of electronic communication platforms and tools available for clinicians and patients, detailing their utility, pros and cons, and some 'tips and tricks' from our experience through our work as an international research collaborative.

  • clinical decision-making
  • health services administration
  • health services research

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  • Contributors The BURST Research Collaborative comprises members and contributors around the world. Members use a number of communication tools to deliver high-quality international research projects, with face-to-face meetings only occurring on average twice a year. HLR and DS are clinicians using other similar electronic platforms for both teaching and patient consultation use in the current climate. DS and VK conceived the initial idea for the article. KDC led the article writing in collaboration with all other authors. All authors critically revised the article and approved the final draft. KDC is the corresponding author and VK is the guarantor.

  • Funding VK is an Academic Clinical Lecturer funded by the United Kingdom National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). JMN is a Doctoral Fellow funded by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MRC).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing is not applicable as no data sets were generated and/or analysed for this study. This is a review piece and as such there are no data sets available.