Why do GPs rarely do video consultations? qualitative study in UK general practice
Greenhalgh T., Ladds E., Hughes G., Moore L., Wherton J., Shaw SE., Papoutsi C., Wieringa S., Rosen R., Rushforth A., Rybczynska-Bunt S.
Background Fewer than 1% of UK general practice consultations occur by video. Aim To explain why video consultations are not more widely used in general practice. Design and setting Analysis of a sub-sample of data from three mixed-method case studies of remote consultation services in various UK settings from 2019–2021. Method The dataset included interviews and focus groups with 121 participants from primary care (33 patients, 55 GPs, 11 other clinicians, nine managers, four support staff, four national policymakers, five technology industry). Data were transcribed, coded thematically, and then analysed using the Planning and Evaluating Remote Consultation Services (PERCS) framework. Results With few exceptions, video consultations were either never adopted or soon abandoned in general practice despite a strong policy push, short-term removal of regulatory and financial barriers, and advances in functionality, dependability, and usability of video technologies (though some products remained ‘fiddly’ and unreliable). The relative advantage of video was perceived as minimal for most of the caseload of general practice, since many presenting problems could be sorted adequately and safely by telephone and in-person assessment was considered necessary for the remainder. Some patients found video appointments convenient, appropriate, and reassuring but others found a therapeutic presence was only achieved in person. Video sometimes added value for out-of-hours and nursing home consultations and statutory functions (for example, death certification). Conclusion Efforts to introduce video consultations in general practice should focus on situations where this modality has a clear relative advantage (for example, strong patient or clinician preference, remote localities, out-of-hours services, nursing homes).