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by Costanza Pearce
26 April 2019
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As few as 0.1% of patients are requesting video consultation when given the choice, online consultation system provider askmyGP has revealed today.
The new data represents patient contact preferences in the first quarter of 2019, across a sample of 213,000 patients in 21 practices that use askmyGP’s online triage tools.
When contacting their practice, almost half of patients, 47%, asked to talk to their GP by phone and almost a third, 28%, by secure message.
A quarter of patients, 25%, preferred a traditional face-to-face appointment and very few chose the video consultation option according to askmyGP.
Management in Practice has learned that while there had been 150 requests for video consultations, only 28 took place during the reported period.
Practices are ‘not bound’ by their patients’ contact preferences but are guided by them, using their clinical judgement to decide the most appropriate way to respond to patients according to askmyGP.
More patients had a face-to-face appointment than had requested one at almost four in ten, 38%, with the same percentage of patients getting a call back from their GP.
Only 22% of patients were contacted by their GP via the secure message option offered by askmyGP, Management in Practice has learned.
Surprisingly low demand?
Data analyst at askmyGP Steve Black said: ‘The data showed surprisingly low demand for video consultations, despite recent publicity about video access to GPs.
‘Remote access to GP services by message and phone, rather than traditional face-to-face appointments, is proving to be more popular among patients than we had anticipated.’
Practice manager and managing partner at Ryalls Park Medical Centre in Somerset, Daniel Vincent, said he was not surprised by the findings.
He said: ‘I think it will take time for the trust in online video consultations to grow. As humans we will often gravitate to familiar options when they are offered together.
‘Many phones offer video calling, however many people still prefer to phone or text their contacts. For now, the benefits of video consultations over a phone call are not obvious to patients.’
All practices will be required to offer a quarter of appointments online by July as part of the new GP contract published in January.
Meanwhile, NHS England also announced in January that all practices will offer the NHS App by July, which allows patients to book and manage appointments as well as order repeat prescriptions and view their medical record.
Management in Practice reported earlier this month that the app’s pilot found practice managers need further guidance before it is rolled out across the country.
An askmyGP spokesperson told Management in Practice that while this is the first available data set, the company will continue to monitor trends by reporting this data on a quarterly basis.