Medical appointments are very different during the coronavirus pandemic. If you need to see your GP right now, you may be offered a phone or video consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment..
These remote means of seeing a clinician help prevent transmission of the coronavirus by reducing the need for patients to travel to healthcare facilities such as general practitioners’ offices and hospitals. Virtual appointments allow doctors to talk to patients who are unable to travel (such as those who are protecting themselves, isolating themselves, or experiencing transportation difficulties).
In 2019, the vast majority of GP appointments were made in person, but for now 70% of general practitioner care is provided remotely according to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
General practitioners have also been asked to perform weekly remote recordings with residents of nursing homes as part of the NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that GPs and many patients have familiarized themselves with the technology, it is likely that phone and video appointments will be here to stay long after the current crisis is over. But not everyone is comfortable with this new way of accessing medical help.
Less than a quarter of people who have a parent over 70 think their loved one would be willing to try a video call with a GP, according to a survey of 1,000 people from BT Skills for Tomorrow. While charity Age United Kingdom warned that older people (especially those with cognitive impairments or hearing problems) may have difficulty with phone and video appointments.
‘It‘Phone and video appointments are likely to be here to stay long after the current crisis is over.
The advantages of video appointments
Online consultations have some advantages over face-to-face appointments, such as no travel time to and from surgery. And because virtual consultations often take much less time than in-person appointments, more patients can be assessed in a single day. You are also more likely to get an appointment earlier.
Some older people are already using technology to track their health. Telehealth Solutions that monitor bodily activity such as heart rate and blood sugar allow healthcare professionals to remotely monitor your condition and manage your treatment, without you having to leave your home. Telehealth services are increasingly being implemented in general practitioner practices to support people with long-term health problems.
How to prepare for a video consultation
The good news is that if you made video calls with your loved ones during the pandemic, you already have all the technology you need to make a virtual GP appointment work. If you have a device like a laptop or cell phone with a camera and microphone – with internet access – you’re good to go.
“We shouldn’t assume that all older people need help setting up remote consultations – many are just as tech savvy as the younger generations,” says Dr Jonathan Leach, Honorary Secretary of RCGP.
You shouldn’t need to download any software or update your computer. Typically, surgeries will text or email you a link to click when it’s time for your appointment.
“Making sure that there is a quiet and private space available, that all the necessary technology is working, has a good connection to 4G or broadband and a good battery capacity, are all good ways. for patients to ensure smooth and successful GP video consultations, ”says Dr. Leach.
Choose a well-lit area and make sure your device’s volume is turned up so you can hear your doctor. It is also helpful to have certain details about your condition handy, such as temperature, blood pressure (if you have your own device), and heart rate. Take notes in advance of any questions you would like to ask during the consultation.
When video dates aren’t appropriate
Remote appointments have many benefits, such as reducing the risk of infection and mean you don’t have to go to an appointment or sit in the waiting room, but they do. not for everyone.
People living with multiple conditions and other complex health needs, and those with hearing or cognitive difficulties may benefit from seeing their doctor in person. In addition, some medical concerns should always be assessed face to face.
Remember that there is usually another option. If you don’t have access to the necessary technology or if you don’t feel comfortable for an upcoming video date, contact your GP to arrange another consultation method that you may find more appropriate.
“If you are not comfortable with an upcoming video date, contact your GP to arrange another consultation method that you may find more appropriate. ‘
“Face-to-face and remote forms of GP consultation continue to be available during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Leach explains. “General practitioners and their teams work hard to ensure that all patient needs are taken into account when accessing care, and that the most appropriate and comfortable form of consultation is always organized.”