Video Consultations – does offering them need to be difficult?

Video, video, video – it’s a word that’s on everyone’s lips at the moment, whether at Practice managers’ conferences or health Technology exhibitions.  But it’s not a topic where we see a lot of conformity – from the boundary-breaking approach of GP at Hand, through to 3rd-party platforms such as Livi, it’s easy to see why some clinicians are confused about how best to offer video consultations, and just as easy to understand how many patients might be a little sceptical.

In our eyes, Video could be made a lot simpler – and it’s something we’ve worked on delivering through our GP Connect cloud communications platform. Here are our top focus areas when it comes to defining and delivering a better patient experience over video:

1: Let’s not create more barriers

We don’t believe that pushing patients to download apps or forcing doctors to familiarise themselves with yet another technology platform is the right way to improve access to healthcare. Although 63% of all patients have expressed interest in taking advantage of video consultations, many, particularly those most in need of care, are unfamiliar with app stores or untrusting of downloading 3rd party apps. Forcing your patients down this route is likely to do little for your waiting times, with the more tech-savvy and, (without wishing to generalise) likely more healthy patients likely to be drawn towards video, there is a risk of creating a two-tiered patient list where the less tech-savvy remain tied to the in-surgery visit.

2: GPs have enough to deal with

Do GPs need yet another system to get their heads around? More logins and passwords to remember, more systems to maintain, more silos of information to record and manage – none of this seems like progress! If we want to help doctors make more efficient use of their time, adding admin is not the answer! We need to do more to make things simple for our GPs, so they can concentrate on providing great care.

3: Keep control of cost

Perhaps one of the most confusing, but most important considerations in the video debate is around the cost-effectiveness of the video platforms available, some counting on a per-consultation basis, others via a monthly rate. It’s hard to compare like for like.

Our view is simple: The best way of keeping costs manageable is knowing up-front what they will be. A flat monthly fee is easier to budget for than per-consultation fee which can vary enormously from month to month – not only does that make finances hard to balance, it could lead to GPs discouraging patients from using video to save costs.

4: Keep a handle on your reporting

Will video deliver the kinds of efficiency savings you need it to? The only way to be sure is through comprehensive, joined-up reporting that enables you to show exactly how demand changes across all channels. It’s going to be tough to understand and report on continuity of care, or track changes in patient demand if you have different systems tracking different channels.

The good news is…

It really doesn’t need to be this stressful! Video consultations can be – should be – as easy as using the phone. And with Sesui it is. Following a series of real-world trials, our clients now have access to Video calls directly from their GP Connect telephony system. In fact, it’s so easy, they can switch from phone to video mid-way through a patient conversation, just by emailing or texting a secure link.

Not only does that mean your GPs can easily manage both video and phone appointments easily, it means patients can get the help they need without worrying about downloading apps, and the practice can create complete, comprehensive usage reports for internal tracking and QoF / CQC requirements.

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