National Voices has published a new insight report presenting key findings from its recent research into people's experiences of remote and virtual consultations and appointments. 

The project was undertaken in partnership with Traverse and Healthwatch England, supported by PPL.

The Dr Will Zoom You Now: getting the most out of the virtual health and care experience describes the opportunities and risks, as well as the successes and failures of this very rapid adaptation of service models.

It also aims to provide practical support to people who deliver or use services on how to make the experience a better one. 

To support this, a brief top tips poster has been published to support the release of the report.

Key findings 

Research carried out to inform the report found, for many people, remote consultations can offer a convenient option for speaking to their health care professional. 

They appreciate quicker and more efficient access, not having to travel, less time taken out of their day and an ability to fit the appointment in around their lives. 

Most people felt they received adequate care and more people than not said they would be happy with consultations being held remotely in future.

However, understanding which approach is the right one based on individual needs will be key to a successful shift to remote consultations.

One of the strongest themes participants raised was the timing of appointments – the need to respect people's time and where an appointment would fit in with their lives.

The importance of quality communication was also highlighted with a clear message that going virtual should not mean a compromise on the quality of interaction regardless of whether the appointment was by phone, video, text or email. 

Other key points were:

  • Patients wanted information in advance so they could know what to expect and how to prepare
  • Many people would have liked the ability to choose which type of remote appointment was most suitable for them (phone, video text or email)
  • Participants were not asked for feedback about their remote consultation

Opportunities

The report calls on health and care providers to adapt to a more blended approach to communication with patients in order to meet their needs. 

It says this work needs to be done by the health service rather than becoming the responsibility of the patient. 

For example, taking the time to assess a patient's level of digital literacy and offering a way to communicate that reflects this would help match the type of appointment with the needs of the person.  

The report also recognises that further work is required to engage people who may not be confident with technology, do not have access to it or who do not want to receive remote care.

Click on the link below to read the report in full.

National Voices

See also