General practice should adopt ‘whole of telehealth’ solution: GP

Increased familiarity with video consultations will positively affect attitudes and perceptions towards this model of care, with video consultations even potentially replacing the in-person consult as the default in Australian general practice, a Melbourne GP says.

And he recommends that general practices should adopt a ‘whole of telehealth’ solution that includes video, phone, webchat, email, store and forward, and remote monitoring.

Writing in today’s edition of the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight+, Elwood Family Clinic GP Andrew Baird argues that while there are no data on the proportion of GP consultations in Australia that are appropriate for video, the final data from the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) study are consistent with video being appropriate for more than 50 per cent of GP consultations.

Dr Baird believes that phone consultations – which make up the vast bulk of telehealth consults in general practice during the pandemic – will continue to have a role in general practice for low-acuity encounters such as follow-up, results, repeat prescriptions, and triage.

However, “in general,” he argues, “phone consultation is not a substitute for an in-person or video consultation”.

“Anecdotally, patients’ attitudes and their phones are barriers to video in general practice. Video is ‘difficult’, phone is ‘easy’.

“Patients may not perceive the significant disadvantages of phone versus video for consultations: no visual interaction, no visual cues, no non-verbal language, no examination, and restricted rapport.

“GPs and their practices can promote video consultations to patients by developing a ‘pro-video culture’ and presenting a positive and enthusiastic attitude about using video for consultations.”

Dr Baird argues that video consultations potentially provide benefits for patients, GPs, general practice, population health, and communities, although the evidence is yet to accumulate and more research needs to be done.

However, he believes that video consultations can become the norm.

The full article is available here.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: Telehealth

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