Five reasons why video consultations are here to stay!

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve had to change all our initial patient encounters to be remote either by telephone or video conference. In my 7 years of general practice, I have never seen practice transformation take hold so swiftly. A lot of practices were dipping their toes but it took this pandemic to make us jump in what seemed like cold water and turned out to be not such a bad thing. In fact, a lot of my colleagues are saying that they are never going back to how they practiced before! These are five reasons why I am of this opinion too.

  1. Less time pressure! From a patient perspective, there is no waiting in reception, no more rushing to be on time. From a doctor's point of view, there is definitely reduced stress knowing that there aren’t three dissatisfied patients waiting in reception if you happen to be behind by half an hour! And we have more control over our schedule. I actually have time to go to the loo now!

  1. A positive effect on performance: Screen feedback; It’s not often that you look at yourself in a mirror while talking to someone. We have a live video of ourselves while conducting a consultation. This feedback certainly affects our behaviour and allows us to correct facial expressions and attitudes to avoid misunderstandings. This works for the person at the other end of the video conference too.

  1. Written plans: Since we always document a detailed plan of our consultation. I have started to text it to patients at the end of my consultation; this especially applies to complex plans like those which involve changes to medications or several steps ..etc This has made my practice a lot safer and has the added advantage of shortening the time spent reiterating, while the patient is taking note or trying to memorise the plan.

  1. Self-help: I have started texting links to videos that patients can watch on their smartphones. These can vary from exercise for back pain and balance exercises to short educational webinars about diabetes. I foresee that these will be a lot more effective than lengthy leaflets and will boost self-help in an unprecedented way..did I say unprecedented? This word has definitely been trending!

  1. Convenience: A lot of patients will prefer a quick chat or a video conference with a doctor rather than putting half of their day on hold to attend the doctors. Skin problems and mental health issues are particularly suitable for video conferences and, where applicable, there will be no more heavy car seats to carry for busy mums and dads! 

If like me, you find that your practice has been revolutionised by the use of video conferencing, share your experience by commenting below. There must be dozens of hacks to be used using video consultations that I am still to discover, please share your experience with me and the others

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