Insight into remote healthcare appointments during the COVID 19 pandemic

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Salford undertook research into the experience of people of remote appointments with their GP.  They spoke to 23 people, including people over the age of 65, people with a disability, people whose first language isn’t English, autistic people and healthcare staff.

None of the people spoken to had had a video call but some raised concerns about the cost of mobile data and broadband if this facility were to be available in future.

People should be able to feel comfortable discussing personal matters from a private setting in their own home.  Healthcare staff should be aware that the lack of privacy could reflect in the detail of information being discussed.

Most people were able to access remote appointments but were not given a choice of phone or face to face.  Some would have preferred a face to face appointment.

Some people find remote appointments difficult to absorb.  They can’t remember key points, resulting in them questioning their understanding after the appointment has ended.

People whose first language isn’t English said that it was important for them to see the person they are talking to.  Visual clues, body language and lipreading all play an important part to communicating.  When interpreters are used, they need to be punctual and reliable.  Access to BSL users also needs to be improved with prompt answering of text services where provided.

Some patients weren’t aware of support that is available to help them learn or improve their digital skills.

The report contains seven recommendations about improving remote appointments.  The report contains responses from providers

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General details

Report title 
Insight into remote healthcare appointments during the COVID 19 pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Salford
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 November, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 31 March, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities
Quality of appointment
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Healthwatch England
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
Unstructured Interview
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Nutrition and dietetics

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Social / behavioural
Types of long term conditions 
Learning disability

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.