Telephone consultationsBMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1047 (Published 29 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1047
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25 years ago, as a recently appointed public health consultant responsible for working with clinicians to improve the processes of care, I got involved in a discussion with GPs and hospital consultants on the subject of innovative ways of working. Patients would often get frustrated and occasionally irate, the doctors reported, at having to wait in out-patient clinics and doctors surgeries. In what may have been a throw-away remark, I suggested that a proportion of such clinic visits could be replaced by telephone consultations with obvious advantages for patients.
I recall being all but laughed out of that meeting as a wet-behind-the ears bright-eyed but ultimately out-of-touch-with-reality public health doctor.
In the days that followed I researched the subject of telephone consultations, and published an editorial [Ref 1] in the British Medical [Journal entitled "Follow up by telephone, It may be just as good to talk on the phone as in a clinic"
In the course of my literature search I found that it was not really as novel and outlandish an idea as my detractors made it out to be. I proposed that, at the very least a proportion of follow up visits cold safely, and with not inconsiderable benefits, be replaced by telephone consultations.
I am delighted that telephone consultation as the medium for clinician-patient interaction has come such a long way. As both a recipient of such a service from my own general practitioner and as a health service researcher, I believe that van Galen and Car [Ref 2] have made a tremendously useful contribution to the subject.
1. Rao JN. Follow-up by telephone. BMJ. 1994 Dec 10; 309(6968): 1527–1528.
2. van Galen LS, Car J. How to conduct telephone consultations. BMJ 2018;360:k1047
Competing interests: No competing interests