Over 225,000 consultations have since been conducted in a range of specialties, with patients of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and across urban and rural areas.
TEC Cymru’s evaluation of the national video consultation programme uses a four-stage approach. These stages involve:
- identifying pre-existing evidence (Phase 0; is it worth it?),
- capturing data from patients and clinicians (Phase 1; is it working?),
- progressing to more in-depth feedback (Phase 2; for whom and where is it working?),
- exploring long-term sustainability (Phase 3; did it work?).
Phase 2 had two parts: Phase 2(a) and (b).
To collect this vital information, various methods are used such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
The feedback from Phase 1 and Phase 2(a) of the evaluation included around 45,000 participants. The findings from both phases were consistent. The findings suggested that video consultations are well accepted among patients and clinicians: for instance, 99.2% of patients would consider using video consultations again in the future. Users highlight the benefits of video such as ease of use, comfort, and convenience.
It is also evident, however, that some challenges exist. They include technological difficulties, and the fact that virtual consultations are not the right choice for some patients.
Regarding the evaluation, Welsh Government Minister for Health & Social Services Eluned Morgan stated:
“This useful evaluation shows promising results on the use of video consultation in healthcare settings. It’s encouraging to see that this service has been highly rated by both patients and clinicians and I hope that it will continue to be used and developed beyond the pandemic to allow wider access to healthcare services in Wales.”
Looking forward, TEC Cymru is moving to Phase 3 of its evaluation. Throughout August 2021, the research team is conducting focus groups with clinicians. These are designed to collect additional information about video consultations that may have been missed by previous methods like the surveys. There are further research investigations planned to fully understand the suitability and sustainability of digital innovations in specialised services throughout the NHS.
Video use was heightened throughout the 2020-2021 stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wales has every inclination to continue with video consultation. The country is keen to ensure that each stage of growth of video use in health and social care is closely evaluated.
Visit the official TEC Cymru website for more information on the future of video consultation in Wales.