What are a Video Group Consultation (VGCs)
VGCs are a way for clinicians like consultants, pharmacists, social prescribers, practice nurses and health coaches to review a group of people with a similar health or care issues together, for example diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure. Group clinics provide more time for people to talk about their shared concerns and learn how to keep well and self-manage their health issues.
Before COVID-19, some clinicians were using group clinics to review and support people living with long-term conditions. VGCs have been used successfully during the COVID-19 outbreak. They have been found to be a safe tool for remote consultation and an additional way clinicians can choose to provide care.
Sessions typically last 60-90 minutes, with 6-15 patients joining the virtual session at the same time.
What technology do I need for a VGC?
- You will need a smartphone, tablet or computer and be able to use this your chosen device to be able to join the VGC Access to the internet in a private place.
- Access to an email address
- You don’t need any special programs as you will be sent a link to click on and access Microsoft Teams on the web , there is no need download the app, if you don’t already have it.
- Some tech skills- basic level required.
What happens at a VGC?
This is where you speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer.
This can save you time as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. It will help to stop infections spreading such as coronavirus (COVID-19).
How do I prepare for a video visit?
Before the start of your appointment:
- Find a well-lit spot. Make sure there is good lighting so your health care provider can see your face.
- Make sure the camera is working and turned on
- Make sure you are in the middle of the screen and the camera is at eye level
- Make adjustments to reduce background noise in preparation for your VGC
- Close other applications to avoid any disruptions or distractions
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How will I benefit from a VGC?
A: People who have participated in face-to-face group clinics say that they enjoy hearing from other people in a similar situation and having longer to talk about their worries. They say they enjoy sharing their concerns, what has worked for them and what doesn’t but also hearing from other people’s success. They report feeling a sense of belonging and that they are no longer alone in trying to manage their condition such as asthma, diabetes or depression.
Q: Can I still have a one-to-one video or face to face consultation with my GP or nurse?
A: Yes, we will always offer face to face appointments and one to one appointments. VGC are used as an extra way to support those who want to join in.
Q: What happens in a VGC?
A: Once you’ve clicked the on the link you have been sent to join in, you will be welcomed by a member of your surgery’s team who will have been trained to be a facilitator. The facilitator will keep the group secure by asking you to confirm your identity and will start the session by reminding everyone in the group to keep information confidential. They will then explain how the session will flow and each member of the group (often 6 -15 participants) will introduce themselves. Each session can be different but normally it consists of:
- Review time to look at and understand your results such as blood pressure, peak flow etc and come up with questions for your clinician who will join the group and possibly have one to one consultation with each member.
- During this time people often join in and share ideas and problem-solve together.
- Your clinician may give a presentation on a chosen topic
- The facilitator will wrap up after 60-90 minutes and you might want to set goals for yourself.
Q: How do I know a video group clinic is for me?
A: You can talk to your surgery group facilitator or your own GP or nurse to find out more and check any concerns you might have. VGC might not suit everyone, if you are feeling anxious beforehand, let the facilitator know. Some people may even join in and decide to leave if it isn’t right for them. At any point you can leave a group.
Q: Can I have my yearly health check in a video group clinic?
A: Yes, many practices are offering the choice of having your yearly health check in a 90-minute group rather than a 10 minute appointment.
Q: What happens if I change my mind when I’m in a video group clinic?
A: If you feel a group clinic isn’t working for you, let the facilitator know and you can leave. Feed-back will be collected after every clinic so let your facilitator know if you think things could be improved.
Q: Have VGCs been tried before and what do patients think about them?
A: Yes, VGC are used widely in the NHS and have been here at Bay Medical Group for some time now, we also collect feed-back from patients who have participated in a video group clinic for ways to improve them.
Q: Do I need to have any blood tests or checks before I join a video group clinic?
A: Your facilitator will write to you before you video group clinic to let you know if you need any particular tests.
Q: Can my partner, friend or carer join me in my video group clinic?
A: Yes, but only with you’re an the agreement of your facilitator . It is often very useful for carers or family members to join in. They will need to agree to confidentiality and confirm their identity just like other participants. Ideally you should keep to just one extra member or groups can get too large. Video groups are particularly useful for this as a relative who lives at a different address or even abroad can join in to support you.
Q: Can I share my VGC link with someone else who wants to join in?
A: No , only participants will receive a link to join. You shouldn’t share the link with anyone else.
Q: What happens if I don’t want to say anything in a video group clinic?
A: Let your facilitator know if you are feeling worried about being in a group. It is OK to join a group to listen. Many people do this and end up joining in once they feel comfortable.
Q: What happens if I am late joining my group?
A: You may not be allowed to join the group as it is important that everyone has agreed at the start to confidentiality and confirms their identity. It also disrupts the group for others. You may be asked to book into another group clinic or one to one appointment.
Q: How is my health information kept confidential during a group?
A: All participants are requested to agree to a behavioural contract before they enter a group. This states that they agree not to share any information discussed within the group. If any personal details are to be shared in the VGC for example, in a diabetes group this might include blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol this will be discussed prior to the VGC and consent will be asked to share this information. NHS England, the Caldicott Guardian and The Information Commissioners Office are satisfied that the benefits of virtual group clinics outweigh the risks of confidentiality breaches if systems such as the behavioural contract are in place to reduce these risks. Practices have been given training and support to reduce these risks and information shared over Microsoft Teams is encrypted and meets NHS cybersecurity quality requirements.
Q: Is my personal information is stored on the computer after a video group clinic?