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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Patients prefer phone consultations over face-to-face appointments, finds survey

Patients prefer phone consultations over face-to-face appointments, according to new research.

Online consultation system provider AskmyGP looked at patient contact preferences for a GP consultation in the first quarter of 2019.

They found that among 213,000 patients from 21 practices, almost half (47%) chose a phone consultation in a clinical episode. 

This compares to 25% for patients who preferred face-to-face appointments, 28% for those who wanted to be contacted via text and only 0.1% for those who chose video consultations.

AskmyGP data analyst 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.'

Dr Hugh Reeve, a GP in Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, who has offered patients a choice between consultation by phone, secure message, face-to-face or video since February, said: 'Our patients tell us they have found the new contact system excellent, saving them from taking time out of work to attend the surgery. For the practice team it means reduced pressure for appointment slots allowing us to improve our caseload management as well as our own work-life balance.'

Pulse reported last year that a Scottish practice signed up to the online consultation service after struggling to recruit new staff

Digital consultations are set to become an increasing focus for GPs, with the NHS long-term plan promising digital GP appointments for all.

Meanwhile, the NHS App, which allows patients to book and manage GP appointments, view their medical record and order repeat prescription, was rolled out by NHS England earlier this year following a pilot.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Not exactly unbiased.

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  • A further survey finds 100% of doctors prefer face to face interviews over phone consultations.

    The qualitative part from study reported that doctors found it easier to examine patients and see that patients looked ill.

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  • please-delete-this-fucking-profile-i-cant-delete-it-in-my-account-settings

    i bet a lot of people would prefer to get their car MOT'd by phone too

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  • No shit, as Turn Out says hardly likely to be an unbiased piece of work me thinks!

    Did NHS E chip in to help fund it too?

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  • In the interest of balance...

    We’ve been using askmyGP since October 2017 and have found it really helpful in managing our total patient demand in a more efficient way. As a result we never have to turn anyone away because there are no appointments left - a significant improvement for our patients. Our wait time for routine face to face GP appt is now 1 day

    When a patient creates a request on askmyGP they specify a preference for how they would like to communicate with their GP - either face to face, email or phone. This is where this data comes from.

    Clearly if a patient needs to be seen, but specifies a preference for a telephone call or email then they end up with a face to face appointment. What askmyGP does allow though is another option to manage that patients need

    As a rule I end up seeing about 35-40% of patients who end up contacting, satisfied that the rest don’t need to be seen. I consider this safer than seeing everyone but knowing that patients who need an appointment can’t get in

    Important to say that we are paying customers of askmyGP and will not financially benefit from this post

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  • Econsult analysis though suggests 70% need face to face....oh and increases contacts by 8%

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  • If you ask people who have signed up for telephone consultations, and you are clearly a telephone consultation organisation you have a biased sample. Why would you expect and unbiased result?

    The problem here is the misleading headline. 'Perhaps telephone company gets free publicity.' Might be more accurate?

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  • Not surprised. Patient:"I have severe back pain needing 3 months off on benefits and morphine (so they can sell)". Seeing them and testing them face to face remove all doubts.

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