Category Archives: Blog

Top Tips for Mastering Telemedicine Consultations

Blog: Top Tips for Mastering Telemedicine Consultations

Our guide to making sure your patients get the best online care

Providing telemedicine consultations, and how best to carry them out, came into sharp focus with the Covid pandemic.

Although the idea of providing health care at a distance, instead of face to face, seemed to fit perfectly with lockdown restrictions the take up was never as high as expected.

Technological barriers to the take-up of video existed pre-Covid but the pandemic caused providers to accelerate development to the extent that now it almost seems unthinkable that video consultations could not take place just a couple of years ago.

Telemedicine appointments allow patients to communicate with healthcare professionals in real-time using tried and tested video conferencing technology.

Making video a key part of healthcare tech

Many GPs are undoubtedly put off holding video consultations for want of some basic guidance so we’ve compiled a series of tips which aim to help provide effective and compassionate care during video/online consultations while maintaining professionalism and privacy.

Being prepared builds confidence

  • The internet connection must be reliable and, preferably, you need a back-up plan if connectivity issues do occur
  • Check that your computer has a high-quality camera and microphone for clear audio and video
  • Be familiar with the video conferencing platform you will be using. If necessary, colleagues can trial a dummy consultation or two as a way of ironing out any unforeseen problems.
  • A little preparation will go a long way in building confidence that you can cope with any glitches or change approach, if necessary

Blog: Top Tips for Mastering Telemedicine Consultations

Create a suitable environment

  • Make sure that the place you will be using is quiet and well-lit
  • Minimise distractions and background noise, if possible
  • Ensure that the background is free of personal items, so it looks as professional as possible

Use the personal touch

  • Most patients will appreciate a personal touch, so begin the consultation by putting them at ease with a warm greeting and introduction to yourself
  • Making eye contact is a good way to help establish a rapport. Looking at the camera, rather than the screen, will be necessary for this
  • Using the patient’s name frequently will help personalise the experience
  • Be prepared to offer assistance to less tech-savvy patients and have a troubleshooting plan if issues arise, which may involve using a phone call for the consultation instead

Privacy and security

  • The connection needs to be secure, as specified by the NHS
  • Confirm the patient’s identity and date of birth
  • Remind the patient to ensure their own privacy during the consultation
  • Video sessions must not be recorded but notes should be taken

Communicate clearly

  • Speak clearly and at a moderate pace
  • Avoid using medical jargon when explaining diagnoses and treatment plans
  • Offer opportunities for patients to ask questions

Active listening

  • Do pay attention to the patient’s concerns and questions
  • Verbal cues such as ‘I understand’ or ‘I see’ as well as nods will show empathy and engagement

Visual Examination

  • Train to effectively conduct visual assessing by video
  • Patients should be asked to show specific body parts, if necessary, as long as they are comfortable with doing this online

Watch the clock

  • Do your best to keep your telemedicine consultations on schedule. This respects your time and the patient’s
  • Set clear time limits for the consultation and allow time for questions

Blog: Top Tips for Mastering Telemedicine Consultations

Patient Education

  • Screen sharing can be useful to display relevant images or diagrams
  • Summarise key points and treatment recommendations in writing for the patient to refer to later

Following up

  • Discuss any follow-up plans and schedule a home visit, if necessary
  • Send any prescriptions electronically to the patient’s pharmacy
  • Update the patient’s electronic health record (EHR) promptly

Why get on the learning curve?

During a video consultation, clinicians can assess and diagnose patients’ conditions remotely while discussing their symptoms, medical history and concerns within certain constraints.

Healthcare professionals who are confident with their findings during an online consultation can prescribe medications, and also make referrals for in-person tests, treatments or specialist consultations.

In some cases, healthcare providers may provide patients with chronic conditions remote monitoring devices, such as blood pressure monitors and glucose metres, that transmit data. This enables adjusted of treatment based  on the information being submitted.

Online consultation growth is continuing

Although the percentage of consultations remains low there is evidence that it’s becoming an important complement to telephone and face-to-face appointments. 

In August 2023 nearly 598,000 video/online appointments were carried out – up by 444,000 on August 2022 – indicating that telemedicine is not going away.

So, although representing only 2.11% of the 28m appointments carried out in general practice in August 2023, the numbers seem to be growing. In contrast, the number of telephone appointments saw a slight decline. 

There were 250k video consultations delivered in Wales, from the inauguration of the service up until September 2021.

An evaluation recorded particularly high ratings of patient and clinician satisfaction with a 92.4% rating for ‘quality’ (Excellent, Very Good or Good) for patients and a 71.9% rating for clinicians.

This research also showed that patients expressed enthusiasm for factors such as saving on travel and parking time and costs (92%), avoiding the need to take time off work/school (81%) and enjoying improved convenience and access to care.

Nearly everyone said they would use the service again…

Meanwhile clinicians in Wales, although indicating lower levels of satisfaction, did highlight benefits such as the ‘more efficient use of their clinical time/space’ (75%), ‘increased access to care’ (72%), ‘reduced waiting times’ (69%) and ‘reduced Did Not Attend rates’ (61%).

In Scotland the number of video consultations has grown from 40k video a month in 2022  to 20k a week

Users surveyed estimated that such appointments save an average travel distance of 36 miles each time.

When asked if they would use the service again 97% of respondents expressed a positive rating while 92% found the system easy to use.  

Technology can support patients in their homes

A good example of where technology is supporting urban patients is in the London borough of Newham

Technology is being used to support people in managing their condition, maintaining health and wellbeing, and enabling them to be able to continue to live independently for longer. 

Careful managing of long-term conditions, including high blood pressure, heart and breathing problems, is essential to prevent illness and keep hospital visits and admissions to a minimum.

In Newham, patients’ readings go to a centre where they are automatically logged and checked, so that they can be contacted or visited if there is any concerns arise.

Patients are reviewed monthly over the phone and an ongoing evaluation process is in place.

For most clinicians, their experience with telemedicine will be more similar to that in Wales and Scotland, through online services offered by healthcare service providers including Silicon Practice, NHS Attend Anywhere and AccuRx.

Whichever system your practice uses, there are advantages with being familiar with how it works. 

Conclusion – is telemedicine at the ready?

While the take-up of telemedicine, in particular video consultations, has been slower than anticipated, it still remains an area with huge potential.

The number of video/online consultations is increasing, making it an increasingly important means of delivering consultations. This shouldn’t be underestimated as it acts as a complement to other forms of appointment rather than replacing them. 

Those who gain skills in using video consultations now may gain an advantage in the unfortunate event of another global outbreak that restricts movement of clinicians and patients.

Our video consultation system allows the clinician to schedule appointments or start them immediately, perhaps while already speaking to a patient on the telephone.

Once patients book an appointment, they will receive a message that includes a clickable link to access the session.

Blog: Top Tips for Mastering Telemedicine Consultations

Clicking the link at the start of the appointment time takes the patient to a virtual waiting room, where clinicians can send messages if there are any delays.

Patients can join the consultation when the clinician is prepared.

During the appointment, the clinician retains control, with the option to conclude it when finished or enter ‘Privacy’ mode, which deactivates both video and audio while keeping the session open, ready to begin again.

Notes can be made during the appointment and can be transferred to the clinical system after the session. Please note that, for legal reasons, video consultations cannot be recorded at this time.

For training videos please see our YouTube channel

Find out more about Silicon Practice and our products here

Blog: Top Tips for Mastering Telemedicine Consultations

Written by Bruno Clements

Streamline GP Workflow in 6 Steps

Optimise every stage with Silicon Practice’s digital solutions

This latest infographic from Silicon Practice illustrates six steps that help to streamline GP workflow. Remove hassle from your everyday tasks and focus on the things that matter most.

In a constantly evolving healthcare industry, it is imperative we harness all modern technology available to us. That’s why we’ve curated a 6-step plan to help you take advantage of some of the latest digital transformations, making a real difference to your practice’s workflow.

Infographic - 6 Steps to Streamline GP Workflow - Preview

Download your copy here.

Teamwork needed to prevent nightmare NHS queues

Teamwork needed to tackle nightmare queues for NHS doctors

NHS queues of nearly five million patients each month in England for a doctor’s appointment have put general practice back in the headlines.

The Government has already stated its  ‘expectation’ that all those who need a GP appointment can get one within two weeks.

Urgent appointments, meanwhile, should be on the same day, the Government said in its Autumn Statement of November 2022. 

However, breaking down what is, or isn’t, being achieved already, and how to reduce NHS queues, isn’t easy.

The Royal College of GPs says 85% of appointments happen within two weeks with nearly half on the same day.

It says the Government’s wait time target isn’t a fair measure if those appointments which take longer than two weeks are for routine matters.

Prof Kamila Hawthorne, who chairs the Royal College of GPs, says that GPs and their staff are working hard and issues around delayed appointments are due to “decades of underfunding and poor resource planning.”

While the major parties and professional bodies seek to lay blame, patients may be more pragmatic and wonder if their practice is being run as efficiently as possible.

About 122 million GP appointments were booked in 2021/22, according to NHS England, and around 6.4% were missed – that’s around 7.8m appointments a year or 650,000 a month.

Earlier this year the NHS asked hospitals to ensure they are sending appointment reminders, to improve processes for cancelling or rebooking appointments, and considering remote appointments.

As Sir James Mackey, NHS National Director of Elective Recovery, says: “With NHS staff delivering more than two million outpatient appointments every week, and outpatients making up more than 80% of the overall waiting list, this drive to reduce missed appointments has the potential to make a huge difference in freeing up capacity and helping us deliver for patients.”

Technology can make a difference

Many if not all those initiatives can be used in primary care as well, with technology provided by Silicon Practice and others can help GP surgeries to step up to the challenge.

Silicon Practice sites have always prominently featured multiple ways in which patients can cancel appointments and contact their practice.

Home page of Foundation website: Teamwork needed to tackle nightmare queues for NHS doctors

Not only can appointment reminders be sent by SMS, but text messages and emails can also be used to flag up availability so that patients who are prepared to be ‘on standby’ can be notified quickly when appointments become free.

NHS England has recently established benchmarks for making sure patients find online healthcare provision, including appointment changes, easy to navigate and interact with.

Foundation sites are expected to achieve a 98% rating of the top NHS benchmark at launch and can be part of your strategy for reducing missed appointments.

Appointment scheduling efficiency will differ widely from geographical area to area, by PCN and, indeed, from surgery to surgery.

Increasing the use of video and phone consultations can reduce unnecessary visits to a surgery. Websites, such as those provided by Silicon Practice, can give patients control of recording blood pressure readings online and completing other healthcare assessments and reviews at times convenient to them

Streamlining administrative tasks and reducing paperwork can bring benefits and will be one aspect of the approach which has to be adopted across the UK if the situation is to improve.

Cash injections increasingly unlikely for NHS  

Politics and how public funding is allocated is an inescapable part of the situation patients and NHS staff find themselves in.

In simplistic terms, increasing funding can help surgeries hire more staff, expand their facilities and invest in technology, which could lead to more efficient and timely care.

This can’t be untangled from the need to recruit and train more medical professionals, as well as training and supporting existing GPs, in many cases attempting to stem the flow of those into early retirement.

However, a massive boost in funding looks increasingly unlikely during the present cost of living crisis.

Offering GP services outside normal working hours, during evenings and weekends, has been seen as a way of distributing patient appointments more evenly and expanding the roles of nurses, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals can free up appointments for GPs to see more complex cases.

Cooperation not conflict will help patients and clinicians

The NHS was created 75 years ago by a political party and, sadly, healthcare is always going to be a political football. Arguments on how much should be spent and on what are never going to cease. 

In some cases, approaches will be tried and won’t work or, possibly more worrying, just be judged too costly to provide at the end of a trial period.

As website providers, we see this happening around the country, and a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work.

An evolving multifaceted approach is perhaps the key, as well as getting the message across to patients that they themselves have a part to play by keeping appointments and cancelling when unable to attend.

Learning lessons from successes and failures across Britain will be paramount if resources are to be used effectively.

Contact us to find out about Foundation. You can follow Silicon Practice on Linkedin.

Silicon Practice logo: Teamwork needed to tackle nightmare queues for NHS doctors

Written by Bruno Clements

Digital priorities for improving primary care

As the healthcare landscape evolves, it is becoming clearer that digital technologies are increasingly crucial to improving patient outcomes, efficiency and access to services. But which are the most important? Explore our latest blog, where we discuss digital priorities for improving primary care in 2023. 

Primary care provided by the NHS plays a pivotal role in providing essential healthcare services. To optimise these, digital priorities need to include better interoperability, improved patient services and access, upgraded core systems and expanded back office and coordination tools.

Interoperability: Advancing Integrated Healthcare

Interoperability can be defined as a seamless exchange of data between different systems and healthcare providers, ensuring that patient information is readily available and accessible when needed.

In the context of UK primary care, interoperability plays a growing role in advancing integrated healthcare, enhancing care coordination and optimising patient safety.

Patient data needs to be integrated across various primary care practices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities to enable a comprehensive understanding of patients’ medical histories and ongoing treatments. 

Digital priorities for improving primary care

With this in place there is a better chance at a holistic approach to healthcare delivery, reducing redundant tests and improving patient outcomes.

Interoperability working at its best facilitates efficient communication between primary care providers and specialists, enabling timely consultations and coordinated care plans. 

This, in turn, reduces the risk of medical errors, streamlines referrals and ensures patients receive the right care at the right time.

When it comes to medication management, if interoperable systems can enable real-time access to patients’ medication histories, allowing primary care practitioners to avoid potential drug interactions or adverse reactions, this will promote medication safety.


Patient Services and Access: Empowering Patients in their Healthcare

Empowering patients and promoting active involvement in their healthcare journey is a crucial aspect of modern primary care. Digital solutions can significantly enhance citizen services and access, enabling patients to manage their health effectively and access care whenever required.

If patients can be provided with secure and user-friendly online access, such as through our Foundation sites, GP practices can offer convenient access to medical records, lab results, appointment scheduling and prescription refills. 

Together with the NHS App, dedicated websites for surgeries can promote transparency and facilitate two-way communication with patients.

The ability to use phone or video consultations can be a way of offering patients greater accessibility, especially those living in remote or underserved areas. 

Digital priorities for improving primary care

It also reduces the burden on physical facilities, easing the strain on resources. It was the drive to reduce the pressure on practice receptions which was an inspiration in the creation of Silicon Practice’s FootFall sites, now in use at hundreds of practices across the UK.

Foundation builds upon the success of FootFall, overwhelmingly meeting new benchmarks* laid down by the NHS, which is seeking to make surgeries’ websites increasingly user-friendly. This extends to consistency in appearance and functionality.

Another aspect are health apps and wearable devices. As these become more widely adopted, patients can monitor their health metrics in real time and share the data with their primary care providers. 

Increased use of data can lead to early detection of health issues and the more preventive measures can be implemented, the more the NHS can save on costly treatments.

Upgrading and Improving Core Systems: Future-proofing Primary Care

To harness the full potential of digitalisation, UK primary care needs to focus on upgrading and improving core systems that form the backbone of healthcare operations. 

As increasing patient confidence in security is a key part of improving uptake, the NHS will continue to ramp up cybersecurity measures in tandem with data privacy protection legislation.

Cyber attacks – often ‘ransomware’ incidents where gangs or individuals hijack parts of the system – are an ongoing danger.

In May 2021, hospitals in Ireland lost access to records because of a cyber attack. There was a major disruption to services, and some medical equipment was put out of action. It took until September of that year to get 95% of servers and devices functioning normally again. 

Improving the security of devices and personnel is a never-ending process. Imperial College London’s Cyber Report 2020 stated that outdated and unsupported IT infrastructures and medical devices increase NHS vulnerabilities.

Digital priorities for improving primary care

Among core systems that have to be protected and upgraded are electronic health records (EHRs), practice management software and clinical decision support tools:

  • Electronic Health Records (EHRs): Transitioning from paper-based records to EHRs streamlines data capture, storage and retrieval, enabling quick access to patient information. EHRs enhance clinical decision-making, reduce administrative burdens, and improve patient safety by reducing errors related to handwritten records.
  • Practice Management Software: Efficient practice management software automates administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling and inventory management. Time and resources saved can be allocated to patient care.
  • Clinical Decision Support Tools: Implementing clinical decision support systems assists healthcare providers in making evidence-based decisions at the point of care as soon as possible. These tools can provide alerts for potential drug interactions, highlight best practices, and recommend appropriate screenings, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.


Back Office and Coordination Tools

While patient-facing services are essential, streamlining back-office operations and coordination among healthcare teams are equally crucial in achieving efficient and effective primary care services.

  • Data analytics tools allow primary care providers to derive valuable insights from patient data, enabling evidence-based decision-making, identifying trends, and predicting patient needs. Analytics can drive quality improvement initiatives and enhance population health management.
  • Implementing appointment management systems with automated reminders and waitlist management reduces no-show rates and optimises clinic schedules, leading to better resource utilisation and improved patient satisfaction.
  • Care Team Collaboration Platforms are vital for seamless care delivery. Utilising dedicated platforms for care coordination allows healthcare professionals to share information, discuss cases and coordinate patient care efficiently.



By prioritising interoperability, patient services and access, core system upgrades, and back office and coordination tools, primary care can deliver better outcomes, increased efficiency and improved patient experiences to the UK population.

One of the first things a practice can do is have a Foundation site, expected to achieve a 98% rating of the top NHS benchmark at launch. Contact us to find out about Foundation

You can follow Silicon Practice on Linkedin.

*Foundation sites are expected to achieve a 98% rating of the top NHS benchmark at launch

NHS benchmarks raising quality of GP websites

Written by Bruno Clements