Many GP practices have changed the way they work during the pandemic and are offering remote consultations to ensure patients receive care in a safe wayWhilst there will always be reason to see some patients face-to-face, it is likely that remote consultations will continue to be used where appropriate in the future 

Our recent BTF patient survey indicated many thyroid patients have received their care remotely and that many of you are happy with this way of delivering patient care.  49% of you who had a telephone, online or video consultations with their GP during the pandemic said it was efficient and worked well and that you would be happy to have virtual appointments in the future.  

In many ways, remote consultations are similar to face-to-face ones. They run for a maximum of 10 minutes and your doctor will record the discussion on your patient notes like in a conventional appointment. There will still be the same opportunities to ask questions  

And yet using what might be unfamiliar technology, or not having the doctor in the same roomcan sometimes seem a little daunting. To help you get the most out of your consultation, we have prepared some tips for you: 

Getting the best out of your remote GP consultation 

Beforehand 

  • Write down a list of things you wish to discuss, including any symptoms you have been experiencing. It’s also helpful to have a record of when your symptoms first started and what makes them better or worse
  • Have a pen and paper ready in case you want to make notes 
  • You may wish another family member to join you for the consultation 
  • Be prepared to tell your doctor of any non-prescription medicines or supplements you are taking 
  • Where possible try to find a quiet space away from other distractions 
  • Ensure your technology is working properly before your appointment, i.e. is there a good mobile phone signal, good WiFi connection etc? 
  • If you're having a video consultation make sure you allow video and microphone access. Also make sure the built-in camera, microphone and volume are switched on  
  • Some video consultations give you an option to test the link is working before the consultation 
  • If your consultation is online, consider having photos/a video of your probleready (if applicable) which you can share with your doctor 

During the consultation 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions 
  • If you don’t understand what the doctor is saying, or feel they are using jargon, ask them to explain 
  • Try not to rush. Explain your problems clearly. If you have more than one problem, go through them one at a time
  • Wait for the doctor to answer and try not interrupt them 
  • If you are prescribed a drug, or your dose has changed, make sure you know why and how to take it. Your pharmacy should also be able to help with this
  • For video consultations, you can make use of your device’s camera to show the doctor any problems 
  • It might not be possible to cover everything in the 10-minute consultation. Many other patients will be waiting for their appointment too, even if you can’t see them like you would in a GP waiting room. If you are unable to cover everything during the consultation, ask whether it’s possible to have a follow-up consultation 
  • If you would like to see blood tests results or copies of letters written about you, you are entitled to see these. Ask how you can obtain these from the practice  
  • Make sure you understand what happens next and what you need to do if things get worse 
  • Ask whether there are any additional sources of information and support available to you if you feel you would benefit from this 
  • If they ask you to go for tests, or refer you to a thyroid specialist, make sure you know who to contact should you not hear anything 

Follow up 

  • Don’t worry if the technology let you down on this occasion. Your doctor will arrange for another consultation 
  • If the doctor feels you need to be seen face-to-face, they will arrange a consultation for you 
  • If you receive an online or text message with links to further information or to book any further appointments, make sure you follow this up 
  • Keep any notes you have made to refer to in the future 

    More information on living with thyroid disorders is available here. Many patients also find our network of volunteer telephone contacts and local support groups a valuable resource.



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