Virtual family-centered rounds: A collaborative necessity during COVID-19 and beyond


Primary Subject area

Hospital Paediatrics


Family-centered rounds (FCR) are the cornerstone of pediatric hospital care and have many proven benefits including improved patient outcomes, satisfaction, communication and safety. Traditionally, FCR take place in the patient’s room; however, due the COVID-19 pandemic, entering patient rooms was no longer advisable in order to maintain physical distancing and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE). Therefore, it became clear early in our pandemic response that a new process was required to ensure the benefits of FCR were maintained given their paramount importance to safe and quality patient care.


The objective of this study was to virtualize the in-person FCR process used by our pediatric inpatient medicine teams to improve safety and reduce PPE costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.


We quickly identified available hardware (laptops, tablets) and video conferencing software, assembled a multidisciplinary project team and secured administrative and quality improvement support. Quality improvement methodology and participatory design were used to develop and refine our virtual family-centered rounds (vFCR) standard work, and on April 6, 2020 we launched our first vFCR. Over the next 3 months we engaged in a series of plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles to iteratively improve our process: nurse auditors attended vFCR daily then met with our project team to review data and observations, and real-time feedback was sought from patients and caregivers.


Data collected on 1792 vFCR between April 6 and July 31, 2020 revealed 74% of nurses, physicians and trainees were satisfied or very satisfied with vFCR and 88% felt they had a good understanding of the patient care plan after vFCR. 79% of patients and caregivers were satisfied or very satisfied with vFCR and 88% of caregivers felt like a valued member of their child’s care team. We met our target of 10 minutes per patient in 74% of vFCR with an average transition time of <3 minutes between patients. Patients and caregivers felt vFCR were collaborative, more private and less intimidating than in-person FCR, and some even preferred the virtual approach.


During this pilot, we achieved a standardized vFCR workflow that is safe, feasible, efficient and confidential, with high levels of stakeholder satisfaction and support. vFCR was highly valued by families and yielded unanticipated benefits. Based on current usage, vFCR are saving ~$36,000 monthly in PPE. The importance of this work during the COVID-19 pandemic is clear, but also has benefits in non-pandemic times, including allowing caregivers to participate in FCR when they cannot be at the bedside, enhancing FCR confidentiality, and improving communication and care for isolated patients. Furthermore, the vFCR process is easily adaptable to other inpatient workflows such as consults and multi-disciplinary meetings. We believe this virtual care model is both highly relevant and transferable to a variety of health care settings across Canada and beyond.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Melanie Buba

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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