Telephone and online consultations (appointments) between patients and doctors have become more and more a part of normal everyday practice. Email consultations may be used for certain kinds of medical issues such as test results, medication queries, questions about referrals and recent appointments, and queries relating to reports and forms. The questions are answered by a GP.
Auberon felt that it would be good to email GPs a quick question that didn’t need a visit in person, and Ish thought that online consultations were particularly good for people who work.
It can be hard to attend appointments or have telephone consultations when you’re at work. Emails are easier and you can look at them when you have time.
Lara was in favour of GP surgeries using modern technology that could save patients from going into the surgery, but wondered if emailing the GP might involve a long wait for a reply. Ambeya also felt that emails to GPs might take too long to get a reply to, especially if lots of patients started contacting the GP online.
Doctors are very busy. It may take them a while to find the time to reply to emails. But using technology is a useful way of asking GPs questions.
When Siobhan was 14 and went to talk to the GP about depression and self-harm, she found it hard to ‘spit it out’ to a doctor she hardly knew. She later heard about a chat room in another country that had qualified GPs who could give advice 24/7. She would have liked to have had access to something like this when she was having problems. She would also have found it easier to ’email a summary’ of what she wanted to talk to the GP about before the first appointment. Sarah, Nikki and Sophie also felt that writing things down for the doctor to read before an appointment could be easier for young people who find it hard to talk about mental health to a GP they don’t know very well.