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Getting started with video consultations

May 20, 2020

Video consultations and telehealth have become trending topics over the past few weeks. The number of virtual consultations has climbed as doctors have come to see the value of this medium for safely treating patients without risking the spread of the coronavirus at hospitals, clinics, and medical practices.

Dr Charlene de Greef, based at the Mayo Clinic in Johannesburg currently conducts between two and four video consultation per day, despite having been sceptical at the beginning: “I felt a bit uncomfortable during my first one or two consultations as I felt intimidated using technology in this way. But once you have done it a few times and you realise how easy and convenient it is, you soon become quite comfortable with this type of consultation.”

The same applies to her patients: “My patients cope well with this concept. I noticed a bit of discomfort initially, but once they realise that this has exactly the same format as a normal consult in terms of history-taking they all relax.”

You need to take into consideration that video consultation is not suitable for all patients – for example, if a patient is confused, anxious, or doesn’t know how to use the technology. But if patients are suitably equipped and confident, a video consultation is the way to go.

Five tips for a successful video consultation:

  • Use a secure video consultation tool
  • Ensure you have a good internet connection, a functional webcam, and microphone (preferably a headset)Ensure you have a good internet connection, a functional webcam, and microphone (preferably a headset)
  • Maintain eye contact and be alert to non-verbal clues!
  • Clearly define the start and end of the consult, explain all steps in the examination, and state necessary follow-ups

Dr de Greef’s advice: “My greatest obstacle was to familiarise myself with the process, and the only way to overcome this obstacle was just to do it!”

The first few video consultations may feel a little awkward, but doctors will soon develop their own style, as well as an instinct for which patients need a follow-up examination in person, or referral directly to a healthcare facility.

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