Research finds only 4% of NHS patients prefer video consultations

NHS video consultations, AI NHS
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New research finds that only 4% of NHS patients prefer video consultations – but 60% would be happy for Artificial Intelligence to replace official handwritten medical notes

When it comes to the NHS, immense COVID-related pressure on top of limited funding has widened fissures in what it can do.

The virus struck across the country, pushing services to breaking point. Cancer care lagged, as healthcare professionals across the country pulled back to back shifts with no annual leave, handling the flow of COVID patients.

A lead cancer nurse said: “We’ve all got that Covid fatigue. We’re exhausted by the way we’re living and working. And it’s really difficult. The thing is, we’re coming up to winter, we’ve got to step up to the mark again. And it’s whether we have the resilience to deal with that.”

For anybody trying to get an appointment now, with the UK officially in a state of unlockdown, the NHS is saving time and energy by directing them to phone calls and video consultations. For years, there has been on-and-off discussion about digital transformation for the NHS – now it appears to be imminent.

But how do people feel about the digital way of things?

New research, conducted by Nuance, finds that public perspectives on digital healthcare are generally shifting.

64% of people still prefer in person appointments

According to their global study, involving 10,000 adults from 11 countries, UK respondents were clear in their attitudes. It seems that 4% of NHS patients would select video consultations over face-to-face appointments, with 16% likely to opt for a phone call over an in real life meeting.

Overall, 64% of people prefer to speak to their doctors in person. Post-pandemic, 15% said they were “very comfortable” with remote services.

60% happy for AI to help during medical appointments

But when it comes to the use of AI, attitudes are shifting much more visibly.

The researchers found that 60% of people would be happy to let AI create their clinical documentation, replacing the traditional handwritten doctors’ note. These people believe largely that AI could speed-up appointments, help their doctor to focus just on diagnosis, and create a source of more accurate and detailed medical information.

“Over the course of the global pandemic, the NHS was forced to radically transform the way that it delivered its life-saving services. The new digital practices that emerged from this time of chaos have resulted in long-term changes to patient expectations and preferences,” said Simon Wallace, Chief Clinical Information Officer at Nuance Communications.

While the population appears to be open to changes like this, the question of implementation lies with NHS budgets for the imminent future as opposed to public acceptance.


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