I now offer Remote Consultations in addition to Face to Face ones
The coronavirus pandemic placed considerable restrictions on every aspect of our lives. I decided to offer remote consultations in an attempt to continue some form of practice and to help inform current and new patients. The experience was very rewarding for patients and for me. They are convenient and have been very well received. I have now held over 100 remote clinics.
Remote clinic limitations
Remote consultations work very well but have some limitations. Patients are asked to send in anonymous photographs of the area to be discussed before the clinic. Without these it is impossible for me to have an understanding of options to discuss. I am still happy to run a consultation, but I can only offer general advice in that case. I do not ask for, nor would I permit, exposure of areas of patients body during a remote consultation. My examination is therefore limited to the photographs and any decisions made may change once I see patients in the follow up face to face consultation.
It is important to remain mindful that internet security may not be as tight as we imagine. Please, therefore, do not disclose any sensitive information during a video call. Anything of this nature can be discussed securely during a later, face-to-face consultation.
I am happy to discuss options, risks and benefits etc, on the understanding that the advice given during such a consultation may change when I see patients face to face.
Benefits of remote clinics
My and my patients experience over the last two years has been very positive. I email the notes that I make during the meeting to the patient, (under password protection), along with check lists, the wording of a consent form for the procedures discussed and a typed letter.
When patient' see me for a free second consultation, face to face, they are already very well informed. Examination is less embarrassing because they know that I have already seen the area that they are concerned about.
Further pre operative appointments are easily conducted remotely as are long term follow up appointments; especially useful if large distances are involved.
Because of the above, a number of points need to be accepted before a videoconference can go ahead.
Without being paranoid, we should assume that others might be able to have access to our conversation and video link. It is therefore important that anything a patient wishes to remain entirely confidential should perhaps not be discussed during the videoconference.
I do not feel comfortable asking patients to undress during a videoconference to show me areas of concern. I therefore suggest that images of the areas of your body for which you are seeking advice are taken prior to the conference and are emailed to me separately. We can then discuss them together during the appointment. (Please see below).
Before any surgery or plan of action is agreed it is imperative to have a face-to-face consultation with a formal examination. Having done so the discussed plan is likely to be confirmed, however it may be altered or even found to be unsuitable after examination. This could prove disappointing.
The Remote consultation fee is the same as that for a Face to Face consultation but includes a subsequent pre operation consultation in person. The fees are to be submitted prior to the consultations.
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