Implementing video group consultations in general practice during COVID-19: a qualitative study
Papoutsi C., Shaw S., Greenhalgh T.
BACKGROUND: Group consultations have been gaining ground as a novel approach to service delivery. When in-person care was restricted owing to COVID-19, general practice staff began delivering group consultations remotely over video. AIM: To examine how multiple interacting influences underpinned implementation and delivery of video group consultations (VGCs). DESIGN AND SETTING: Qualitative study in general practice in England. METHOD: a) 32 semi-structured interviews with patients, clinical, and non-clinical staff (from eight GP surgeries in total), NHS policymakers and programme managers, and other stakeholders; b) observation in relevant training and operational meetings; and c) three co-design workshops (21 participants). Thematic analysis was informed by the Planning and Evaluating Remote Consulting Services (PERCS) framework. RESULTS: In the first year of the pandemic, VGCs focused on supporting those with long-term conditions or other shared health and social needs. Most patients welcomed clinical and peer input, and the opportunity to access their practice remotely during lockdown. However, not everyone agreed to engage in group-based care or was able to access IT equipment. At practice level, significant work was needed to deliver VGCs, such as setting up the digital infrastructure, gaining team buy-in, developing new patient-facing online facilitation roles, managing background operational processes, protecting online confidentiality, and ensuring professional indemnity cover. Training provided nationally was seen as instrumental in capacity building for VGC implementation. CONCLUSION: Small scale VGC implementation addressed unmet need during the pandemic. However, embedding VGCs in routine care requires rethinking of operational, infrastructural, and clinical processes. Additional research on costs and benefits at service and patient level is needed.