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Cwm Taf Morgannwg patients and clinicians positive about video consultations

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’s health professionals have conducted over 17,500 video consultations (VCs) with patients over the past 11 months and, according to new research, both patients and clinicians are very positive about the service.

The latest research was undertaken by TEC Cymru with patients and clinicians on the use, value, benefits and challenges of health consultation via video. It relates to the ‘scaling-up’ period of VCs and follows research undertaken during the previous ‘rollout’ phase.

Overall in Wales, the research found that video consultation:

  • remains very highly rated among patients and clinicians (slightly higher with patients). In the Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB area, over 90% of patients say they would use it again and only 1% said they would not
  • is a well-accepted service across a wide range of care sectors and specialities, and is clinically suitable for a wide range of patient demographic groups, regardless of health status, age, gender, ethnicity, household income, and place (urban/rural)
  • has been embraced by adult mental health services across Wales, with over 34,000 video consultations taking place across Wales.
  • is emerging as a long-term preference, tending to be associated with the significant benefits which clearly outweigh the challenges.

The video consultation benefit reported by most patients surveyed in Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB as very beneficial or beneficial was ‘lowered infection rate’ (95.6%), slightly higher than the clinicians at 92.1%. Over 90% rated ‘saved travel and parking’ (92.9%) and ‘saving the environment’ (93.3%) in the same way, again above the clinicians at 75.6% and 67% respectively.

Over 80% also classed as very beneficial/beneficial ‘saved time and preparation’ (88.5%), ‘improved convenience’ (88%), ‘improved access to care’ (86.1%), ‘saved money’ (83%), not ‘having to take time off work/school’ (81.4%), ‘improved family involvement’ (81.4%) and ‘lowered stress and anxiety’ (76.5%).

Other benefits rated (very) beneficial by most clinicians surveyed included ‘more efficient use of their clinical time/space’ (67.3%); patients’ ‘increased access to care’ (64.9%); ‘reduced waiting times’ (62.4%); reduced ‘Did not Attends’ (47.6%); and ‘improved family involvement’ (45.9%).

When asked about the challenges presented by VCs, 14.4% of patients in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB area said a preference for a face-to-face or telephone appointment was (very) relevant. From the clinician’s perspective, the preference for a face-to-face appointment was reported as ‘very relevant’ or ‘relevant’ by 20.8% (for the patient) and 28.2% (themselves as clinicians).

The least reported challenge by patients was ‘issues with space or privacy’ (97.5.% ‘not at all’) and challenges such as ‘issues with device, internet, visual or audio’ were minimal for the patient (ranging 1.1% to 6% as ‘a lot’). A ‘lack of confidence’ using VC and the perception of VC ‘not being clinically suitable’ were also reported as minimal challenges for patients (ranging 1.5% to 2.8% as ‘a lot’).

The most reported challenge by clinicians were technical issues associated with poor audio, visuals, internet or device (ranging 9.3% to 17% ‘a lot’). The least reported challenges by clinicians were ‘lack of confidence’ in using VC (91.3% ‘not at all’) and VC being perceived as ‘not clinically suitable’ for the patient, with only 7.5% stating this challenge as ‘very relevant’ or ‘relevant’.

Gemma Johns, TEC Cymru Research & Evaluation Lead said:

“TEC Cymru follow a robust phased approach to its Research and Evaluation. We learn more as we move through each phase, and utilise each dataset to support local Health Boards to make better informed decisions for their staff and patients.

“In the new Phase 2a evaluation VC report, we have been able to deep dive into patient and clinician experiences and identify how the benefits clearly outweigh the challenges. We have been able to demonstrate how well VC is working for our Welsh patients and clinicians, and also the opportunity to challenge many assumptions on digital exclusion in Wales. The findings in this report seek to support Health Boards and the Welsh Government on future decisions and ways of working in NHS Wales, and the sustainable use of VC moving forward.”

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:

“This useful evaluation shows promising results on the use of video consultation in healthcare settings. It’s encouraging to see that this service has been highly rated by both patients and clinicians and I hope that it will continue to be used and developed beyond the pandemic to allow wider access to healthcare services.”

Have you used the VC service? If so, TEC Cymru wants to hear from you! You can go along to one of their focus groups in July and August to tell them about your experiences.

Data source: Johns et al (June, 2021) Phase 2a Quantitative Data. The NHS Wales Video Consulting Service, Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Cymru. Cited at www.digitalhealth.wales and retrieved on 22 July 2021.