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I support the usage of digital methods of consulting as an adjunct to the provision of clinical care and improving access in General Practice.
We are all on a steep learning curve in defining our ‘post-lockdown new-normal’ and should embrace the positive lessons from the COVID pandemic and carry them forwards.
Digital consultations are not a panacea and there are both disadvantages as well as advantages (discussion of which is beyond the scope of this response). Yes, digital consultations have been billed as an effective way to maximise so-called left shift terms of efficiency but evidence is mounting that this may not actually be true in reality. Astute patient/problem selection is key in determining positive consultation outcomes for digital consultations. Selection should be shared; both patient and doctor-led selection will undoubtedly contribute to the shared-selection process. Digital consultations also work better for dealing with certain problems and can increase efficiency and doctor-patient satisfaction.
One must remember however, that the face-to-face doctor-patient consultation is greater than the sum of its parts. The rapport and emotional connections that can be established via conveyance of empathy and non-verbal communication are the fabric of General Practice and moving to a predominantly digital world may compromise this
No competing interests
08 July 2020
FRCGP, Partner, National Council Member RCGP, Vice Chair Notts LMC