Video Visits: How Doctors Decide Who to Offer Online Meetings To

A recent study has looked into the use of video visits with patients by clinicians in Sweden, to try to find out how doctors decide which patients to offer them to. The original study, ‘Clinicians’ Selection Criteria for Video Visits in Outpatient Care: Qualitative Study’, is published in JMIR and can be found here.

What Video Visits Involve

Video visits are appointments between a clinician and patient that are held using video calling technology. They may help to overcome certain challenges some patients can face, such as difficulties travelling to clinics, or reaching marginalised groups. However, this form of interaction could also change the dynamic of the clinician-patient relationship, and, since this is a relatively new way to hold appointments, researchers are keen to understand exactly how video visits can impact patient care.

The Study

To look into this, researchers carried out a study at two clinics in Sweden. They observed thirteen video visits of patients with obesity and carried out 14 follow-up interviews with clinicians. Using the analysis of these interviews and their notes, they looked at how clinicians decided which patients to offer video visits to.

Their Findings

The researchers identified twenty different arguments for choosing patients who are offered video visits, and, based on interviews and field notes, they believe that there were also other unexpressed arguments that played a role. Three main themes were found for why patients were selected – (i) practicalities, (ii) patient ability, and (iii) meeting content.

‘Practicalities’ included factors such as whether the patient is enthusiastic about having video visits, whether they have the right technology for it, how far away they live from the clinic, their amount of spare time, and whether they have any conditions that make transport difficult. In comparison, ‘patient ability’ referred to factors such as the patient’s well-being, whether they already had a relationship with the clinician, and their mindset. Finally, the ‘meeting content’ covered issues including whether the meeting was about sensitive issues, and whether patients needed more frequent contact (e.g. a one-hour meeting could be broken down into four 15min meetings using video visits if the patient wanted to meet more often, which isn’t possible with clinic visits). These are just some of the factors the researchers’ found played a role; for a more exhaustive list you can check out the original study linked at the top of the page.

The study authors conclude that while not all patients with obesity should be offered video visits, it’s important to weigh up the patient’s wants and what they clinician thinks would be best for treatment when making a decision.


Anna Hewitt

Anna Hewitt

Anna is from England and recently finished her undergraduate degree. She has an interest in medicine and enjoys writing. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with cats.

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