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The benefits of video in delivering hybrid healthcare

Topics: DrDoctor Video


When exploring the impact of remote healthcare delivery in the NHS, it becomes apparent that the pandemic served as a catalyst in challenging the traditional norms of in-person healthcare and driving the adoption of a remote-friendly approach. While today, appointment delivery has mostly returned to traditional in-person appointments, some specialties have embraced online video consultations with open arms - making it an integral delivery method to better both the patient and clinician experience.

However, a question remains: how has this shift towards video appointment delivery impacted productivity in secondary care? 

The growing role of video 

The pandemic forced healthcare’s hand. Patient waiting lists continued to grow, but social distancing guidelines meant delivering patient throughput in a safe and effective manner became a severe obstacle. Finding the right technology, training staff, and ensuring both patient and clinician safety was of urgent priority. In March 2020, the number of monthly NHS video consultations dramatically increased from 5000 to 340,000 appointments a year later, marking one of the fastest rollouts of a single technology in NHS history1. This adoption of video was also well received by clinicians, with 76% feeling ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ about remote video consultations with patients1. 

Although most clinics have since returned to delivering face-to-face appointments, a range of specialities - most notably Mental Health - have leveraged the success of video during the pandemic to make it a pivotal role in delivering accessible healthcare, all while maintaining the same quality of outcomes as in-person appointments2.  

Some clinicians may still hold reservations around adopting a digital-first approach to appointment delivery - but when each step of the patient pathway is better understood, video consultations can be seen as a vital cog in driving productivity across several key factors. 

Reducing DNAs 

Did-Not-Attends (DNAs) continue to be an ever-present problem in the NHS. Around 6.4% of the 122 million appointments booked last year were missed, translating to almost 7.8 million appointments a year3. Determining why patients fail to attend their appointments is complex, often consisting of a variety of factors - one of which, can be patient inequality barriers. Video consultations combats these inequality obstacles, enabling vulnerable or housebound patients to conveniently access and attend their appointments from virtually anywhere, who may otherwise have a higher likelihood of missing their appointment. 

Analysis of Telemental Health concluded that clinical assessments delivered via videoconferencing yielded similar measure scores when compared with in-person assessments2. In these specialities, privacy, confidentiality and safeguarding is paramount; enabling access to convenient remote healthcare - without the expense of quality service and outcome - can drive a more well-rounded experience for the service user, who becomes less likely to have a DNA outcome.

Increasing patient throughput 

In healthcare, time is always of the essence. Last-minute appointment cancellations often mean clinician time is not being maximised, and appointments go to waste. Trusts using DrDoctor Video have empowered clinicians to make the most out of late changes to their busy schedules, successfully delivering over 17,000 ad-hoc video appointments last year alone.  

Aside from filling late appointment changes, Trusts are harnessing the convenience of DrDoctor Video to seamlessly deliver and juggle mixed format clinics as opposed to solely relying on in-person appointment delivery. Trusts can safely increase the total number of clinics by converting those lower acuity patients to remote consultations instead of face-to-face. Delivering almost 60,000 scheduled video consultations last year, DrDoctor Video has enabled clinicians to handle larger appointment volumes at ease, improve their patient waiting lists management and ultimately, drive a higher patient throughout rate.

Better use of time & resources 

“Did that appointment really have to be in-person?” 

Patients may find themselves asking the question, after their strenuous commute to-and-from the clinic for a routine follow-up appointment that could have just as easily (and effectively) been delivered remotely. It's not always about what's preferred to the patient or the clinician - it's what's appropriate. Trust's that better understand their patients' journey - from initial appointments to recovery, and everything in between - can better determine the appropriateness of video, and make better use of limited time and resources.

Trusts who can better triage and conveniently manage the patient recovery pathway removes the heavy burden on staff to manage their overcrowded clinics and waiting rooms, allowing for a better use of healthcare staff, examinations rooms and sparse equipment to patients in need of urgent, face-to-face appointments.  

Compounding impacts 

Online video consultations are seen as the ‘visual upgrade’ of widely used phone consultations4, and often excel where these other traditional methods fall short. In one specific case, DrDoctor Video was used to swiftly intercept a patient displaying concerning symptoms during an unrelated assessment, preventing what would have required an imminent ambulance transfer to an Emergency Department had the appointment been taken out over the phone.  

This not only spared an ambulance on the road and a hospital bed, but also averted potential long-term residential care for the patient. Here, the use of video healthcare delivery prevented the patient’s health from deteriorating, saved clinic resources and inadvertently, thousands of pounds for the NHS. 

Video in hybrid healthcare: Best of both worlds? 

Most clinicians still regard face-to-face appointments as their preferred approach to achieve better clinician outcomes, which is a valid claim. Video consultations may not perfectly mirror the effectiveness of in-person appointments for all use cases, but does present a viable solution to drive efficacy by supporting and complementing traditional delivery pathways. This patient-centric approach to healthcare brings substantial, encompassing value across both the clinician and patient experience, and beyond. 

Video may not pose a one size fits all, stand-alone solution for appointment delivery; but when its compounding value for clinicians, patients, and role in hybrid healthcare is better understood, Trusts can benefit from the best of both worlds. 

Built on a UK leading patient engagement platform that connects over 25m patients with NHS services, DrDoctor Video is the preferred way to deliver reliable, convenient remote healthcare at scale. 

Book a demo today to learn how video consultations can streamline clinician workflows and transform your Trust’s remote healthcare delivery. 


1 - Outpatient video consultations in secondary care

2 - Telemental health for clinical assessment and treatment

3NHS drive to reduce ‘no shows’ to help tackle long waits for care

4Video consultations in primary and specialist care during the covid-19 pandemic and beyond