Remote consultations should be seen as part of the general practice package of care

Throughout the pandemic digital health providers have routinely demonstrated how remote consultations can help clinicians tackle the pressures of Covid, not only by acting as a form of infection control, but also by improving efficiency and capacity. Now digital healthcare is facing increasing scrutiny and it’s time to consider whether people are focusing on the right aspects and asking the right questions. 

As a representative of the UK’s leading providers of online primary care, secondary care and pharmacy services, we have seen first-hand how such tools can support clinicians to deliver patient care on a daily basis. That does not mean to say that remote tools should be the only option – we can clearly see that traditional in-person care is necessary in certain circumstances – but they should be seen as an important part of the package of care that will enable clinicians to see more patients, and crucially free-up capacity for in-person consultations for those that really need them. 

At a time when waiting lists have reached record-breaking levels and with increasing concerns around staff burnout and retention, it’s important that clinicians are given all the support they can get. In primary care, for example, there simply aren’t enough GPs to deliver the number of face-to-face appointments that patients currently want, but delivering some of them remotely will help to improve efficiency and manage the demand. 

Here at the Digital Healthcare Council, we’re working to position digital solutions on a level playing field with traditional healthcare services. It’s time for patients and clinicians to recognise the benefits of digital solutions and understand when and where they should be used.