Rapid introduction of virtual consultation in a hospital-based Consultant-led Antenatal Clinic to minimise exposure of pregnant women to COVID-19

BMJ Open Qual. 2022 Jan;11(1):e001622. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2021-001622.


The COVID-19 global pandemic dictated rapid change to outpatient services within our London-based maternity hospital. Coupled with long waiting times in the Consultant-led Antenatal clinic, we aimed to reduce hospital footfall and unnecessary contact with a clinically vulnerable patient population by reducing face-to-face consultations. Numerous specialties have already successfully implemented safe and effective teleconferencing, allowing remote review while reducing the risks posed by face-to-face contact. A target to see at least 15% of women remotely was set to reduce footfall in the Consultant-led Antenatal Clinic. We aimed to reduce face-to-face waiting times to a mean of 30 min. In March 2020, clinics were prevetted by the clinic consultant to carefully select appropriate women suitable for video or telephone consultations. Clinic templates were changed, increasing appointment times by 5-25 min each. ‘AccuRx’ software was tested and used to communicate appointment details and conduct the consultation. In-person waiting times in the clinic and number of virtual consultations over a 3-month period was recorded, along with qualitative feedback from service users and staff through surveys and departmental meetings. Mean waiting times were reduced by 33% from 45-30 min and multiple service-user benefits were noted, including partner involvement, convenience of waiting for appointments at home and removing requirement for childcare. However, limitations of internet connectivity, need for time to prevet clinics and lack of a robust administration system to inform women of their appointment type were highlighted. Further work is required in these areas to ensure sustainability and improvement of this process for the future.

PMID:35027342 | DOI:10.1136/bmjoq-2021-001622