Acceptability, benefits, and challenges of video consulting: a qualitative study in primary care

Eddie Donaghy, Helen Atherton, Victoria Hammersley, Hannah Mcneilly, Annemieke Bikker, Lucy Robbins, John Campbell, Brian McKinstry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: People increasingly communicate online, using visual communication mediums such as Skype and FaceTime. Growing demands on primary care services mean that new ways of providing patient care are being considered. Video consultation (VC) over the internet is one such mode.

AIM: To explore patients' and clinicians' experiences of VC.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Semi-structured interviews in UK primary care.

METHOD: Primary care clinicians were provided with VC equipment. They invited patients requiring a follow-up consultation to an online VC using the Attend Anywhere web-based platform. Participating patients required a smartphone, tablet, or video-enabled computer. Following VCs, semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients (n = 21) and primary care clinicians (n = 13), followed by a thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Participants reported positive experiences of VC, and stated that VC was particularly helpful for them as working people and people with mobility or mental health problems. VCs were considered superior to telephone consultations in providing visual cues and reassurance, building rapport, and improving communication. Technical problems, however, were common. Clinicians felt, for routine use, VCs must be more reliable and seamlessly integrated with appointment systems, which would require upgrading of current NHS IT systems.

CONCLUSION: The visual component of VCs offers distinct advantages over telephone consultations. When integrated with current systems VCs can provide a time-saving alternative to face-to-face consultations when formal physical examination is not required, especially for people who work. Demand for VC services in primary care is likely to rise, but improved technical infrastructure is required to allow VC to become routine. However, for complex or sensitive problems face-to-face consultations remain preferable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Early online date3 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2019

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