News

Shared Decision Making — Is Progress Threatened by the Move Towards Remote Consultations?

Alison Dunlop

MHP Health’s Patient Advocacy team is delighted to have collaborated with the Patients Association, an independent patient charity campaigning for improvements in health and social care for patients, to establish our first Patient Voice Panel.

This report sets out the findings from our first Patient Voice Panel meeting in October 2021, which focused on the hotly-debated topic of remote consultations and their role in enabling effective shared decision making for patients.

The Patient Voice Panel brings together an ethnically diverse group of patients from a variety of demographics, living with different long-term conditions. Our aim is to understand the unique perspectives of lived patient experiences to help shape the decisions and communications strategies of organisations involved in healthcare.

This report sets out the findings from our first Patient Voice Panel meeting in October 2021, which focused on the hotly-debated topic of remote consultations and their role in enabling effective shared decision making for patients. The discussion explored whether remote consultations are enabling or hindering the opportunity for patients to express their values and goals to healthcare professionals in decisions about their treatment options and individual care. With the recent announcement of a £250 million NHS winter access fund for primary care to increase the level of face-to-face appointments, the debate regarding the merits of in person versus remote consultations continues to dominate political and media agendas. While the availability of remote consultations has provided patients with clinical access in unprecedented times, how they are conducted going forward and to what extent, remains a critical focus.

The Panel findings highlighted that remote consultations have the potential to improve some aspects of shared decision making, identifying a clear role for industry to develop targeted digital online tools that provide care and support solutions for patients and clinicians. However, not all patients can engage on equal terms with digital services and there is growing evidence to suggest that remote consultations can act as a barrier to shared decision making if not used correctly.

Industry has a critical role to play in enabling patients to make informed choices about their treatment and care. The solution must lie in working in partnership with patient groups to understand the perspective of real life patient voices from different demographics to help meet the diversity of need.

Our collaboration with the Patients Association to create the Patient Voice Panel is an important step in our ongoing commitment to represent the perspective of the whole patient population, with the ambition of achieving equitable patient centric and sustainable healthcare systems for the future.

Shared Decision Making —
Is Progress Threatened by the Move Towards Remote Consultations?

Headline Insights from our first Patient Voice Panel:

Patients on our Panel valued the flexibility, reduction in travel times and the opportunity to remain in the comfort of their home provided by remote consultations.

They also felt that remote consultations have the potential to improve some aspects of working together with clinicians to agree their treatment goals and gave them the opportunity to speak with and gain the perspectives of more than one clinician. This was seen as a significant benefit that has potential for shared decision making.

However, to enable effective shared decision making, the consultation types offered need to be able to flex to meet the differing needs and preferences of patients. They also need to be in a format that are suitable for the types of issues being discussed. For these reasons, it was felt that there is still some way to go to ensure that all patients are provided with a choice of consultation types that reflects their individual needs.

To discuss the findings of our first panel report, we brought together leading experts from the Patients Association, professional bodies and Industry, together with patients who participated in the MHP/ Patients Association Patient Voice Panel:

  • Rachel Power – CEO, The Patients Association
  • Victoria Bates – Patient Engagement Lead, ABPI
  • Hannah Saul – Global Director Oncology Patient Affairs, AstraZeneca
  • Mo Hafeez – Patient, MHP Patient Voice Panel
  • Heather Devey – Patient, MHP Patient Voice Panel
  • Dr Stephen Allen – Patient Representative, Tackle Prostate Cancer
  • Alison Dunlop – Senior Director (Patient Advocacy), Engine MHP
Watch our Patient Voice Panel launch webinar