Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.


This study aims to identify and analyse the communication strategies through which remote consultations are accomplished.



There is a strong policy push for alternatives to face-to-face consultations in healthcare. Telephone consultations have been an option for years, and now remote consultations (using SkypeTM and similar technologies) are being piloted.

There are concerns about whether remote consultations are as good as face-to-face in all aspects. Early findings from studies of remote consultations suggest that they could have advantages (e.g. patients generally feel satisfied and many prefer consulting in the comfort of their own home with family around them), but that remote consultations are different (e.g. compared to the equivalent face-to-face encounter the overall length is shorter, and the flow of conversation is different).

We need to know more about how the dynamic in the consultation changes when carried out via video-based communication tools.



We have a recently collected dataset of 37 remote consultations (with diabetes, cancer, and heart failure patients), with multi-channel video (i.e. recorded from the clinic and from the patient’s

home), research ethics committee approval, and informed consent from patient and clinician for research analysis.

We plan a fine-grained analysis of verbal and non-verbal interaction of that dataset (and comparison with a sub-set of face-to-face consultations) to generate original findings about the communication strategies that make up a ‘good’ remote consultation.



There is great potential for the use of video-based communication tools, such as Skype, for remote consultations between patient and clinician. This could improve patients’ access to healthcare professionals, and increase their levels of engagement and confidence to manage health conditions.

In the later stages of the project we plan co-design workshops with patients, clinicians, professional organisations (e.g. royal colleges) and policymakers (e.g. NHS Digital) with experience of remote consultations. This will inform the development of information and guidance about communication strategies to support successful remote consultations.



Are you interested in finding out more about the study, or remote consultations generally?

Do you have an interest in using or supporting the use of SkypeTM or similar media for clinical consultations?

For more information or to discuss the study, please contact Sara Shaw, Project Lead.

Further information:

Full project title:

Enhancing technology-mediated communication: qualitative analysis of remote consultations in cancer, diabetes and heart failure

Length of project:

June 2018 – May 2019








External collaborators:

Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK:

  • Shanti Vijayaraghavan, Consultant Diabetologist
  • Satya Bhattacharya, Consultant Surgeon
  • Joanne Morris, Project Manager 


Virtual Online Consultations: Advantages and Limitations (VOCAL) study