Health Informatics Discussion Forum

Should doctors use Skype for consultations?

A hospital in the UK is using Skype for consultations with patients:

A hospital is set to become the first in Europe to tackle waiting times by getting overworked doctors to consult with their patients via Skype.

Managers at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire claim using the online video calling service could reduce outpatient appointments by up to 35 per cent.

They argue that using Skype will help free up consultants' time and car parking spaces – while also helping patients who are unable to take time off work.

If approved, they would become the first UK hospital to use Skype to consult with patients.

The proposals, by Staffordshire's biggest hospital, also include doctors treating patients via email consultations.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10687313/British-hospital-to-become-first-in-Europe-to-use-Skype-for-consultations.html?utm_content=buffer19cb3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Do you think Skype is a good tool for this kind of communication? We have seen lots of expensive telemedicine systems over the years and I have always wondered why doctors don't just use Skype. The medico-legal risks are pretty much the same as far as I can see. What do you think?

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  • While I'm not exactly sure of the medico-legal implications of using skype, I do think there is a great opportunity to provide patients an easy and free to use tool to communicate with healthcare providers. It can potentially have the main benefits of the more expensive telehealth solutions with the added benefit that it is a widely used app. I just wonder how the hospital teams manage their calls. In any case I still think we need to simplify access to tools and reduce costs. 

    • Interesting question, I suspect the demand may be quite large!

      • It would be great to see how large-scale telehealth triage systems handle their calls. What are the criteria to put a call on hold, especially for emergency calls. For regular specialty consultations I don't think it would be that much of an issue.

        • I suspect this is for specialty consultations but I can't find any more details online.

          • Not to worry. These were just a couple of things that came to mind when reading the article. Thanks, Karim

  • Please I believe that it is very good idea to use Skype for consultation, only if the securities are in place. which will provide for patients confidentiality, privacy, and security.

    • Thanks for your comment Isaac, do you know of any people using Skype for teleconsultations in Ghana?

      • No, may be I must do research and find out if there is any thing of a sort.

  • I have few questions pertaining to this:

    What are they trying to prove using this technology? How would doctor examine the patient without stethoscope or any medical exam? how would dental consultation go on Skype? What doctor would prescribe?

    • There is a comment in the Telegraph article from a medical defense organisation where they say the doctors responsibility to determine whether or not it is appropriate to review the patient without being able to conduct a physical examination.

      A dental consultation sounds very interesting - perhaps more one for Google Glass: http://www.healthinformaticsforum.com/forum/topics/google-glass-for...

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