14th December 2015

Patients give thumbs up to Skype consultations

Patients give thumbs up to Skype consultations

A pilot Skype consultations project at a central London GP practice shows high patients satisfaction but less-than-expected demand.

Researchers performed a study in a General Practice at the Cavendish Health Centre in London. The purpose of the study was to examine patients’ reactions on Skype consultations. This study aimed to discover how patients feel about seeing their doctor remotely.  Researchers also wanted to where people  access the service from. They wanted to understand the most efficient way to install a Skype consultations system.

Results of this study show that almost all patients surveyed about their experience of the remote consultation service said they ‘would use it again’ (95%). A further 94% said they were ‘satisfied or better’ with the Skype consultation meeting their medical needs and 78% were satisfied with how long they waited for the appointment. Although doctors warned patients that ‘the security of Skype isn’t 100%’, 83% also said they were happy with the safeguarding of their privacy.

GPs also reported that Skype consultations are better for making a diagnosis. Yet,  they are less time efficient than a phone consultation, taking up to 10 instead of 5 minutes.

Generally a broad mix of people used the service, from working people to young parents. Two thirds of the patients joined the consultation from their home and 28% accessed Skype from their workplace.

This study suggests that patients and doctors can use their time more efficiently when seeing each other. This might be especially relevant for patients with mobility problems or from far away, who can get a more detailed consultation via Skype than a telephone conversation might allow.

Dr Alice Fraser, the lead GP at the pilot practice Cavendish Health Centre in Westminster, said:

“The flexibility that remote working offers means clinicians can make more efficient and productive use of time. I live outside of London so I found the use of Skype particularly helpful as I could carry out consultations with my patients from home without having to travel to London, which meant I was able to better balance my work and family commitments.”

At the present time he is not convinced these consultations work for cosmetic surgery. This is not life saving surgery and communication is so important it should not be compromised.  Shaking hands and sitting down, sharing time together cannot work so well over cyberspace – yet!