Patient-Clinician Dynamics in Remote Consultations: A Qualitative Study of Cardiology and Rheumatology Outpatient Clinics in the UK

Elisabeth Grey*, Frankie Brown, Paula Smith, Daniella Springett, Daniel Augustine, Raj Sengupta, Oliver Peacock, Fiona Gillison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective
Explore the experiences of patients and clinicians in rheumatology and cardiology outpatient clinics during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the impact of remote consultations on interpersonal dynamics.

Design
Qualitative study using semistructured interviews, conducted between February and June 2021.

Setting
The rheumatology and cardiology departments of a general hospital in England, UK.

Participants
All clinicians and a convenience sample of 100 patients in each department who had taken part in a remote consultation in the past month were invited to take part. Twenty-five interviews were conducted (13 with patients, 12 with clinicians).

Results
Three themes were developed through the analysis: adapting to the dynamics of remote consultations, impact on the patient’s experience and impact on the clinician’s experience. The majority of remote consultations experienced by both patients and clinicians had been via telephone. Both clinicians and patients found remote consultations to be more business-like and focused, with the absence of pauses restricting time for reflection. For patients with stable, well-managed conditions, remote consultations were felt to be appropriate and could be more convenient than in-person consultations. However, the loss of visual cues meant some patients felt they could not give a holistic view of their condition and limited clinicians’ ability to gather and convey information. Clinicians adjusted their approach by asking more questions, checking understanding more frequently and expressing empathy verbally, but felt patients still shared fewer concerns remotely than in person; a perception with which patients concurred.

Conclusions
These findings highlight the importance of ensuring, for each patient, that remote care is appropriate. Future research should focus on developing ways to support both clinicians and patients to gather and provide all information necessary during remote consultations, to enhance communication and trust.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere070923
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund: Evidence Based Policy Making theme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

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