Video consultations are appropriate for some patients, some of the time. These questions may help you decide if they’re right for you.
a) Is the video option likely to work for me?
Do you find travelling to clinic difficult? If so, you may feel it’s worth learning how to connect by video.
Do you have access to the right technology and support?
You’ll need a reliable internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. Most video platforms can run on most browsers. Even if you’re not confident in using computers, a carer or relative may be able to help you set it up and get started.
Will you have enough privacy to talk to the clinician confidentially?
If you have problems getting this kind of privacy at home, you could arrange to have your video consultation from a different place (e.g. friend’s house) – or just keep coming to clinic.
When you sign up for video consultations, you’re not being discharged from clinic, and if you decide you prefer traditional face-to-face consultations, you can go back to those. Just ask your clinician or one of the reception or administrative staff.
b) Is the video option likely to work for my condition?
Your clinician will need to decide whether it’s appropriate and safe to do the consultation by video link. Research shows that in many but not all cases, a video consultation is a safe and convenient alternative to a traditional face-to-face appointment. But whether your particular condition can be effectively and safely managed that way is a matter of clinical judgement.
One factor to take into account is whether you will need a physical examination. In some cases, the doctor or nurse can assess you via video link (for example if you can take your own blood pressure, perhaps with help from a relative). But in other cases, there’s just no substitute for attending clinic in person.
Do you need to attend clinic for blood tests, scans and so on?
If you’re going to be there anyway, it makes sense to have a traditional appointment (though in some cases you might be able to get your results via a video consultation).
You won’t get better care by consulting via video link, but you won’t get worse care either. Research has shown that the actual words exchanged and things talked about are very similar whether the consultation is face-to-face or by video. But if you’re concerned about whether a particular aspect of care will be affected by the video link, ask your clinician.
c) Can I decide whether to choose the video option?
We know from research that if video consultations are available, most patients want to be offered that option. But because your clinician is professionally responsible if anything goes wrong, the decision to do a video consultation needs to be a shared one.