Remote consultation experiences: Engaging with hospital outpatients about their experiences of remote consultations

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Summary of report content

50 participants took part in this project through online survey responses, focus groups and conversations. All participants have had a remote consultation as a hospital outpatient.

  • Technology: 2 participants did not have the required technology. 2 participants had limited technology such as only a landline phone and so are excluded from the option of a video consultation. There were issues around poor sound quality and poor Wi-Fi connection.
  • Things to celebrate: Good aspects of remote consultations which were mentioned were saving time, reduced travel inconvenience, more convenient, easier to access, saves money, safer (not exposed to Covid-19 in hospital), more suitable for the condition, everything was explained clearly, relatives/friends could join easily and receiving a better quality service.
  • Things to improve: Poor aspects of remote consultations which were mentioned were the appointment feeling less personal, the standard of care wasn’t as good, it wasn’t suitable for the condition, the healthcare professional rang late, struggle with hearing and so cannot lip read if the consultation is over the phone, the consultation felt rushed, the healthcare professional had not checked their medical records and appointments for giving a new diagnosis or bad news should always be face-to-face.
  • Communication: Communication during remote consultations had mixed experiences; with some experiencing no difference to face-to-face consultations and others struggling with hearing and understanding what the health professional was saying. Some participants shared that they were not comfortable asking questions, especially if they were speaking to the healthcare professional for the first time over the phone and they were struggling to collect their thoughts. Communication issues were particularly prominent for those with visual impairments and learning disabilities.
  • Privacy and security: Views around privacy and security were mixed, with some participants having no concerns about privacy as they trust that the healthcare professional follows confidentiality rules and treats the consultation no differently to face-to-face. Other participants did have concerns about their privacy, particularly if they had their consultation at home surrounded by family who were not aware of any issues.
  • Standard of care: 8 Views were mixed regarding standard of care, with around half of participants receiving the same standard of care as face-to-face consultations and the other half of participants thinking the standard of care has not been as good when done remotely. Issues raised included the appointment feeling rushed, the consultant not being able to examine them and not being offered the choice of a video consultation which they would have preferred.
  • Healthcare professional experience: Around half of participants felt that the healthcare professional preferred remote consultations because they were easier, with comments made around the professionals treating the consultation no differently to face-to-face consultations. The other half of participants believe that healthcare professionals find remote consultations frustrating and would much prefer to see their patients face-to-face.
  • Using remote consultations in the future: The following recommendations were made by participants: being offered the choice of a phone or video consultation, only having remote consultations for routine check-ups and not for more serious consultations, knowing that you are going to be talking to a consultant who you have met before and training on how to use more modern technology.

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General details

Report title 
Remote consultation experiences: Engaging with hospital outpatients about their experiences of remote consultations
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen
Healthwatch Cumbria
Healthwatch Lancashire
Date of publication 
Monday, 20 December, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 4 June, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 5 July, 2021
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities
Quality of appointment
Quality of care

Methodology and approach

Primary research method used 
Survey

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Cancer services
Cardiology
Gastroenterology
Obstetrics & gynaecology
Ophthalmology
Physiotherapy
Respiratory medicine
Rheumatology
Mental health services 
Psychiatry / mental health (other services)

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
50
Does the information include public's views? 
Yes
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Mixed

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Yes

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.