Digital consultation has been a topical issue in recent years and mixed views have been expressed regarding its use. The Covid-19 pandemic brought its significance into the limelight and many clinicians are now turning to digital consultations to maintain patient care. Digital consultations allow clinicians to address and identify any acute concerns with their patients without the risk of viral transmission.
The number of patients presenting to general practice has seen a significant drop during the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, patients are at risk of having acute conditions left untreated. Digital consultations have opened a new avenue to assess potentially sick patients who may not have presented to the GP in person. NHS England continues to advise against face-to-face consultation, unless absolutely necessary. Whilst safety netting can be useful in certain instances, it cannot be a definitive solution as certain conditions can worsen without any overt symptoms.
Objective assessment of patients may still be required to generate accurate management plans. One such example of a condition requiring consultation is lower urinary tract infection, which is a common condition amongst females and most cases can be easily treated remotely. However, if complications arise by an ascending infection then NICE has published guidelines about the choice of antibiotics and set out admission criteria for patients. Formal assessment is not possible in a ‘’traditional’’ remote consultation without proper examination, as there is an increased risk of missing complications in such patients.