Efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by restricting in-person contacts prompted a widespread shift to conducting healthcare consultations via telephone or an internet-based video link (remote consultations). 

The use of remote technology for ‘Care and Support Planning’ (CSP) consultations for people with long term conditions (LTC) warrants particular attention. CSP consultations are carefully designed to ensure healthcare professionals and patients work collaboratively bringing together traditional clinical issues and the person’s lived experience in a solution focused, forward looking conversation with an emphasis on ‘people not diseases.’ The impact of mediating technology may be particularly significant on CSP consultations because of the strong emphasis on personal sharing and relational, as contrasted with transactional aspects of communication.

There are concerns that non-face-to-face consultations may lack or diminish non-verbal communication and cues, and may generate feelings of remoteness and alienation between healthcare professionals and patients.  Thus, either inevitably, or when the technology is used in particular ways or circumstances, some, or all of the value of CSP consultations may be lost in a shift to telephone or internet-based technology. Therefore, it is important to understand whether there are adjustments to skills and approaches that healthcare professionals can use in remote consultations to mitigate any of these effects.

This research will use qualitative interviews to investigate: - healthcare professionals’ experiences of the shift to conducting CSP using remote consulting; how well they think the purposes of CSP can be achieved using remote technology (compared to face to face); and any adaptations that have been (or could be) made to preserve the value of CSP when using telephone and video consulting. 

The findings from this research will be used to inform the ongoing development of practical support and training offered by the NHS Year of Care Programme (YOCP), and guidance about any modifications that healthcare professionals can use in remote CSP consultations to mitigate the potential downsides of the technology. 

This research is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Institutional Strategic Support Fund.

The project is led by Professor Vikki Entwistle in collaboration with the NHS Year of Care Partnership.



Ongoing - In analysis