ACORN: Asynchronous Consultation Research for the NHS

ACORN: Asynchronous Consultation Research for the NHS

Covid19 changed many aspects of healthcare, including how out-patient consultations are managed. As a result, since March 2020 most face-to-face consultations between a clinician and patient were replaced by remote consultations (e.g. via phone or video). Most research has focused on ‘synchronous’ forms, where patient and clinician talk online or by phone in real time. There is less research on ‘asynchronous’ consultation, where patients and clinicians are not available at the same time (e.g. via email and text messages).

As part of its Covid19 recovery plan, NHS Grampian is piloting asynchronous consultation across many specialties, making asynchronous consultation available to thousands of patients deemed suitable. Patients have a 5-day ‘appointment’ to complete questions online and upload photos. The doctor then looks at these and may request further information; make a diagnosis or treatment plan; invite the person for a phone or face-to-face appointment; or discharge them with advice.

Working in partnership with NHSG we will use a range of methods to explore whether it is acceptable to patients and staff involved; how it changes the nature of the consultation; who is advantaged/disadvantaged by the system and; what can be learnt for future roll-out in the NHS. This will include telephone/online staff and patient interviews, public focus groups, and analysis of consultation, patient satisfaction and resource use data held by NHSG.