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2. What are the aims, benefits and risks of non face-to-face clinics?

In this section, we will look at the different aims and benefits of Nf2f clinics, as well as consider some of the risks associated with these models.

What are the aims and benefits of Nf2f clinics?

To provide a solution to – and support – outpatient transformation, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Topol review state that Nf2f clinics aim to:

Avoid or reduce referrals

Secondary care involves many referrals that could be avoided or reduced by using an Nf2f model.  

Assist provision of care close to home

Many patients have to travel to outpatient hospital appointments; Nf2f clinics can reduce the need for patients to attend hospital.

Improve patient experience

Reducing the need to attend unnecessary appointments saves patients time and expense. For example, they might save on travel, parking and childcare costs.

Integrate care services

Integrating primary and secondary care services, and increasing the use of a combined community service. 

Save time

Clinicians and outpatient clinics face growing demands on their time. An Nf2f clinic can optimise the use of this time and increase efficiencies; for example, by ensuring appropriate patients are seen in face-to-face (f2f) and Nf2f clinics.  

Meet population health demand

As the population increases, there’s a growing demand placed on health services. Nf2f clinics can help address that issue.

Develop a resilient workforce

By adopting new models of working; for example, having hybrid nursing roles for chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hypertension.

Improve care

By using patient data from primary and secondary care, Nf2f clinics can improve care through treatment and management that’s better informed.

Reduce the impact on the environment

By reducing the number of journeys that need to made related to outpatient appointments in hospitals.

Are there any associated risks with implementing Nf2f clinics?

Despite the perceived benefits, the evidence base for this change of practice is in its infancy given this is an innovative way of working. During the development of this resource, we have not come across any reported problems concerning the quality or safety of patient care. However, there could be potential risks that are unknown to us at this point in time. These risks could include:

  • Poor patient management
  • Missed or delayed diagnosis

We recommend that any near misses or incidents are reported through your local channels. Safety, quality of care, and any potential incidents should also be a consideration when evaluating your Nf2f project.