Exploring experiences of remote consultations in general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study of people with Type 2 diabetes
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread use of remote consultations in general practice. Existing literature focuses on clinician perspectives. Further research is needed to focus on patient perspectives during the pandemic especially those with chronic conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM).
A qualitative study using semi-structured remote interviews was conducted with people with T2DM from UK general practices. Participants were recruited online (via Diabetes UK forums and social media such as Facebook). Interviews were structured with a topic guide developed with PPI input and data were analysed using thematic analysis methods.
Interviews were conducted with 10 participants, who represented a range of gender, age and ethnic backgrounds. The main findings included challenges to self-management during the COVID-19 pandemic and changing healthcare needs. Perspective on remote consultations were generally positive, with convenience, flexibility and adaptability highlighted. Communication issues, privacy and impact on the doctor-patient relationship were highlighted, as were concerns over the digital divide.
Findings from this study suggest better communication and organisation from general practice is required to provide positive experiences of remote consultations for patients. Issues changing healthcare needs and the potential digital divide should be considered by clinicians, commissioners and policymakers when considering long term implementation of remote consultations.
Despite advantages of remote consultations, participants have suggested recommendations to improve the future of remote consultations regarding timings, security and communication with general practice. Participants understood the necessity for remote consultations given the current pandemic circumstances and are open to continue their use provided their concerns are accounted for.