The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) have today announced the launch of the first national radiotherapy consent forms. We’ve been formal partners on the project, collaborating to ensure that the outputs of the project are suitable for both paper and digital consent processes - particularly important given the expectation that the latter increasingly becomes the norm over the coming months and years.
As in other specialties, it had been demonstrated that there was significant inappropriate variation in the information shared with patients undergoing radiotherapy. Where work was being done to minimise the variation, this was being replicated unnecessarily across many centres developing local consent information.
“The documents have been created following demand from cancer doctors to help address variation in consent materials between cancer centres and strengthen the shared decision-making process between oncologists and patients.” - RCR press release
Our collaboration with the RCR over the past 12 months has seen both sides explore how national consent information developed by a Royal College can be embedded effectively within Concentric’s leading digital consent application, as well as sharing learning from clinicians and patients regarding how best to support a patient-centred informed consent process.
Through the collaboration the additional benefits of digital are being explored, and opportunities to build on what has traditionally been possible with the paper consent process identified, such as the flexibility to tailor information and availability of additional resources. Given the acceleration of remote care pathways, consideration is also being given to how the national consent forms - both paper and digital - will be used alongside system changes over the coming years.
The RCR stated: “The RCR has also partnered with digital consent company Concentric Health, collaborating to ensure that the project outputs are suitable for both paper and digital consent processes. Patients at hospitals using Concentric will be supported with anytime access to their personal consent information, based on the approved RCR national templates, via the supplier’s online platform.”
Of interest to other similar organisations was how authorship would be managed alongside a digital consent (sometimes called ‘econsent’ or ‘patient consent’) application, where a key benefit is the flexibility to tailor a template to the individual. Such tailoring, by its nature, modifies the content away from the national template, either by addition, removal, or modification. The RCR consent templates will be signposted as such, but with visibility to the patient that the content visible to them may have been amended to their circumstances, and with a link to the original version of the site-specific template for reference.
Our experience of the collaboration so far has been that both our team and the RCR are benefiting significantly from bringing together different approaches, different visibility of real-world practice, and different access to expertise. Together these are leading to a healthy working relationship and tangible benefits for both sides. Going forward, the collaboration will support in scaling the use of the templates, and in reviewing updates to the content over time.