Respect the privacy

In this article we report some of the most common watchouts, but your organization may have already set some guidelines for remote consultations, based on national laws. So, take care to read, understand and follow those security protocols first. Ask the documentation to the appropriate people in your organization if you do not have them.

Evaluate Capacity

As an initial step, you must ensure you can assess a patient's capacity. If a patient lacks capacity to understand the information relevant to the decision, retain that information and use that information as part of the process of making a decision, then consider whether remote consultation is appropriate. 


It is then important to take all the necessary steps to help the patient deciding in his best interest. This means that the way the relevant information is presented and communicated should be clear and easy to understand and not impeded by technological constraints (for example, by using simple language or visual aids).


If you are not sure about the above, then a patient family member, carer or advocate could help. Before inviting the assistant, you must gain the patient’s consent to conduct the consultation with other people present. The patients should be informed of any limitations of clinical assessment by remote consultation and also of any potential security risks associated with the consultation taking place via the internet.


You should also take care of privacy aspects, starting from ensuring that any personal information stored on your own device, or obtained through a video or telephone conversation, is safely transferred to the appropriate health and care record as soon as possible. Once the copy has been made, delete any personal information, including back-up data, from your own device.


If you need the patient clinical history, ask the patient for consent to get information from their General Practitioner or Family Doctor, and later send him the details of any treatment you’ve arranged.

During consultation

Take reasonable steps to ensure privacy, in the same way you would do for a face to face consultation:

  • Close the door, put a notice on the door and make staff aware that video consultations are underway. 
  • Make patients aware if there are any other people in the room who may see and/or hear the consultation. 
  • Do not answer a call during a video consultation where possible. If a call is urgent, end the consultation and re-commence at a later time/date. 
  • Treat “display name” and “user name” in the same way as any other information you hold about a patient that could identify them. These should be stored securely and must not be disclosed to someone who does not have the right or need for the information. 
Privacy is key


If you plan to record the consultation, you must inform the patient in advance and obtain consent. The patient should be told the reasons why you are recording the consultation, how it will be stored and for how long. Record details of patient consent in the records and remember the recording will form part of the patient’s medical record, and should be treated in the same way as other medical records.