Telemedicine: The myths and the facts

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The past few years have seen an acceleration in the adoption of telemedicine. Yet, despite increased use of digital technology, there remain some common misconceptions. Here, we take a look at some myths and realities surrounding this topic.

Myth: The role of telemedicine is to replace to face-to-face care

Reality: Remote consultations are there to serve as a supplementary form of treatment and not supersede or replace traditional in person care. Some conditions will always require physical examination. However, in situations where a GP practice has limited resource and face-to-face appointments are limited, digital consultations can offer additional clinical capacity.

Furthermore, for patients who have medical concerns that do not necessitate a physical appointment, remote appointments can free face-to-face capacity for patients who need it most, so patients receive the appropriate care in the right setting.

Myth: Telemedicine places additional burden on the healthcare system

Reality: The inhibition threshold to consult a doctor through a remote platform can be lower than going to a doctor's office. There are some people who prefer not to go to the doctor, especially for certain conditions e.g. skin or venereal diseases. Early clarification of symptoms via telemedicine can provide an alternative in these situations. If an easily treatable disease can be detected early through telemedicine before symptoms become more severe and treatment more expensive, this can be better for the health system.

In addition, telemedicine can ease pressure on overstretched GP practices. Some people make doctor's appointments to clarify symptoms and these can be classified using telemedicine where a physical examination is not necessary. Experienced physicians can often clarify this in a discussion with the patient.

Myth: A remote consultation cannot offer the same quality of care

Reality: All Livi GPs are experienced, GMC-registered clinicians and subject to NHS appraisal. We are rated CQC Outstanding and have a robust clinical governance and patient safety framework in place to ensure the highest quality standards are met.

Patients are assessed by following NICE guidance and Livi GPs can prescribe treatment as required. Of course, not every diagnosis can be made without a physical examination, but Livi GPs can refer for physical examination if needed. Patients also rate Livi 4.9 out of 5 and 95% of patients are helped.

Myth: Telemedicine cannot create a good doctor-patient relationship

Reality: Some Livi patients live in areas where there is a low GP-to-patient ratio or where they have to wait weeks for an appointment due to high demand. Livi patients appreciate both the convenience of the service and quality of care we provide and we receive positive feedback consistently. Patients can also see Livi doctors they have been in contact with previously. So it's entirely possible to build a long-term doctor-patient relationship.

Myth: Telemedicine means more administration for treating GPs

Reality: We provide administrative support to all our GPs through a dedicated team who can assist with a range of tasks. With us, doctors only need a few minutes a day for administrative tasks so they can focus on treating patients.

For GP practices, our service does not create any additional work. Our Livi Practice model enables our GPs to work from a specially built appointment book that integrates seamlessly with the practice’s system. This makes it easy for the practice to book appointments with a service that functions as an extension of their practice team.

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