What is video consultation?
As the phrase suggests a video consultation is one that doesn’t take place face to face. It’s handled online using some form of video chat/conferencing technology like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts or an embedded solution most likely based on an established video conferencing technology like WebRTC.
The client participates in the consultation wherever they’re located using their phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Similarly, the clinician can host the consultation from their phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. The only thing both parties need is a decent internet connection, headphones (for privacy) and/or a private location.
In essence, it’s no different to the FaceTime or Skype calls you have with your friends and family.
Are people actually doing video consultations?
Yes, and they’re growing fast. At the time of writing (September 2019) just under 4.5% of WriteUpp users are scheduling video consultations. This time last year, it was less than 1%.
By speciality, it’s perhaps unsurprising that those disciplines not requiring “hands-on” contact are predominant but even so there are a decent number of traditionally face-to-face specialities undertaking video consultations, like Physiotherapy.
By duration, the average video consultation is scheduled for just under 50 minutes and the average cost per consultation is just under £75
What technologies are being used?
At present, the following technologies are being used:
Currently, for the early adopters, many of the platforms being used don’t offer the control and protection that clinicians might need. For example, making a standard Skype call requires the two parties (Clinician and client) to become contacts which then means that (in theory) communication between the two parties can happen at any time without any scheduling or agreement by either party.
Over time, we expect this to change as practice management software providers (including us) start to offer fully integrated video consultation technology within their systems so that consultations can be booked, pre-paid and undertaken using one-time, secure connections.
How could video consultation disrupt healthcare?
Based on the impact of other “disruptive” technologies the possible impacts of video consultation becoming commonplace could be:
- Location independence – video consultation negates the need to be near your clients. Meaning you can work with clients anywhere in the world, subject to timezones but conversely, it also means that anyone can offer treatment to your clients or your historic pool of clients.
- Reduced waiting times – location independence will significantly increase choice and as a result, the length of time that clients are prepared to wait. This, in turn, is likely to create an expectation that treatment should be more or less immediate.
- Improved experience – for many clients, the opportunity to have a video consultation should offer more convenience, access and potentially a greater level of democratization, particularly if it results in lower costs (see below).
- Lower operating costs – whilst many practitioners may want to retain a physical clinic location many may not and may, in turn, choose to operate from their home or shared workspace resulting in lower overheads.
- Lower (not low) costs for clients – reduced overheads and the potential to tap into a much broader market may have the effect of driving down costs as competitive pressures increase.
What are our plans?
We’ll have more news over the coming months but we intend to offer a fully integrated video consultation platform within WriteUpp. This will allow you to book “video consultation” appointments with your clients which will trigger a special appointment confirmation (via text or email) that will contain the client’s unique, one-time, link to their session. The link will only become active a few minutes before the consultation is due to begin and will expire after the session.
There will be a charge of around 1p/min to use the video consultation feature and this will be managed in the same way as we handle text credits. You’ll be able to buy bundles of video minutes to pay for your consultations but we will be putting protections in place to ensure that you always have enough credits to complete a session before it commences.
We’re very excited about the addition of this feature in WriteUpp and hope to have it live in the first quarter of 2020.
What are your thoughts?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on video consultation. Please click on the link below to take a quick 30 second survey. As a thank you for taking part in our survey all participants will be sent a summary of the results so that you can use it to shape the direction of your own practice in the future.
Video Consultation Survey