Relying too much on digital healthcare

Relying too much on digital healthcare

We rely too heavily on dealing with rural healthcare by doing it online. I once had a full physical body examination done online using a camera. There is a place and a time for this type of consultation but there should be an option to include face to face and in person help. I’ve known situations where bad news was delivered via an online consultation and then the patient just logs off and you’ve no idea what state of mind they are in or if they are alone. This idea was shared at the TPAS conference.


'Near Me' appointments add stress to an already stressful period. I knew an older patient who was anxious about using the digital set up. She was helped before hand to set it up but then was put into the wrong waiting room, then the sound didn't work and the appointment ended up over the phone. The local hospital has rooms set up for 'near me' but when she tried to access them none of the staff had been trained in how to use it or set it up for her. We can't move to a more remote healthcare system if the infrastructure is not in place and if it is to the detriment of patients.

Many people in rural areas are in an older demographic where “online” is unfamiliar.

As someone has already said there is a time and a place for digital appointments and solutions. This isn't always suitable for individuals, especially those experiencing distress, depression and mental health crisis. The personal touch is what is needed, empathy, caring and trust cannot be experienced and built via a screen in a cold (emotionally not physically) room, especially if that person has no other support. It worked well during lockdown when we had no other choices, it should not now be the method of choice for delivery of emotional and some physical care.

IT gurus will promise the earth and after 30 years in the NHS, my experience is that you're lucky if it ends up delivering 5% of what is promised. Managers and politicians are drawn to IT solutions to complex problems as they sound like a silver bullet answer. This is magical thinking and doesn't work in practice as the proposed IT solutions are often too simplistic, underfunded or made to do things they're not designed for. IT and remote working has its place but needs to be trialled and developed by the actual users on the ground. I can show you my cupboard of old IT kit given to us by the NHS which didn't do what it said it would or was more cumbersome and inefficient than the old way of doing things

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