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Dr Helen Atherton on the use of digital consultations to combat coronavirus spread

Dr Helen Atherton, expert in the use of digital routes of access to general practice and alternatives to the face-to-face consultation at Warwick Medical School, comments on the use of video-based consultations of patients by hospitals to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Video consultation offers a practical way to deliver certain types of consultations, such as outpatient follow up appointments that do not necessarily require a physical examination. It could help to avoid widespread cancellation of appointments. The success of such consultations will be dependent on the equipment available to healthcare professionals and as we know that the NHS is not well placed in terms of having up to date IT equipment this is questionable. There is also the major consideration that some patients will not have the facilities or digital literacy to engage in these types of consultations, and so caution must be taken to avoid disadvantaging these patient groups.”