COVID-19: guide for rapid implementation of remote consultations

Practical advice for physiotherapists and support workers on how to implement remote consultations rapidly and efficiently.

Government guidance on provision of healthcare in the home countries and crown dependencies changes regularly. You should explore your local guidance in line with the CSP guidance on whether to provide 'Face to face or not'. Us of remote tools to triage before any face to face contact is recommended and virtual offers of ongoing assessment and treatments should be used where applicable.

Remote consultations include video consultations (e.g. Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or other commercial products), telephone consultation, email and mobile messaging. Setting up remote consultation options normally requires time, planning and incremental introduction.

However, in these extenuating circumstances the CSP endorses a more rapid approach to implementation to minimise risks of exposure to COVID-19 to patients, the public and healthcare staff. Long-term implementation of these solutions should be evidence-based and regularly evaluated in line with clinical and governance requirements.  

Remote consultations are covered by CSP PLI (subject to policy terms and conditions) and should be considered when appropriate.

When should remote consultations be used?

A remote consultation should be used:

  • For clinicians who are self-isolating
  • For patients with symptoms of or confirmed COVID-19 infection
  • For patients who are at high risk of COVID-19 infection
  • For patients who are worried about attending appointments or having visitors, or with heightened anxiety (video consultation may be more reassuring than a phone call).
  • To maintain social distancing

When are remote consultations not appropriate?

Only when fully risk assessed and if no other treatment modality is appropriate should a patient be seen face to face. Appropriate infection control procedures must be followed and appropriate PPE should be worn.

Using professional judgement

Clinicians should use their professional judgement to make decisions about the most appropriate consultation method on an individual basis.

Group classes should not be delivered physically face-to-face at this time and alternative methods of self-management such as online and web‐based resources considered. This presents an opportunity for physiotherapists to develop digital approaches which enable patients to access advice and support virtually.

Read the NHSX guidance on using off the shelf video conferencing tools like Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp as well as commercial products designed specifically for this purpose.

The University of Oxford have produced step by step guidance on delivering video consultation in general practice although this also may be applicable to other settings.

NHS England have developed guidance on delivering remote consultations and other ways of remote working in secondary care.

Watch the Q Community's webinar: Video consultation: how to set them up well, fast?

Physio First, the professional network for physiotherapists working in private practice, have developed guidance on how to connect with patients using virtual consultations.

Have a look at some top tips from our members on using remote consultations:

Download the CSP guidance below for conducting remote consultations