Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The value of face-to-face time

Despite recent posts about new technological solutions to some problems in health, I want to make clear that I believe they are additional aides for a doctor, and should not replace face-to-face time - they would just improve the effectiveness of that time.
An article in PULSE talks about a report by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, which suggests that declining GP numbers and increasing patient demand for their services are making face-to-face GP consultations unsustainable. Rather an extreme conclusion maybe?!? I believe that technology can supplement some of the work, but it must not replace it. From experience I have rung out-of-hours or had telephone consultations with my GP who has said they really can not advise with out having seen me.
With a long-term condition, your emotional and psychological state is enormously important and that requires face-to-face meetings for doctors to see the impact that the condition is having on your life. To talk specifically about 'deconditioning', my GP commented that if I looked like I had not got dressed and was no longer taking interest in how I looked he would be concerned that I was becoming deconditioned. So many subtle observations can be made while meeting someone in person that loosing a face-to-face consultation would, I think, lead to a decline in the care of mental health conditions, as well as the overall 'care' experience for patients.

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