What do patients expect during a remote appointment?

Successful remote kidney care requires the replication of face-to-face communication in remote appointments, with particular attention paid to the interpersonal communication and rapport needed to develop ‘digital intimacy’ with patients.

How to structure remote appointments to respond to patient needs

Waiting for the call

Establish trust by endeavouring to start as close to the scheduled time as possible.

Saying hello

Is this the first time you and your patient have met? Help build a good rapport by asking your patient to tell you their name and their past medical history in their own words.

Call length

At the start of the call, it can be helpful to give an idea of how long the appointment will be. Some patients expect telephone and video calls to be shorter than face-to-face consultations, but some do not.


Touch on the patient's last visit, and ask them what they want to discuss during their appointment.

Call content

Different appointments follow different formats, but patients say there are a few areas they often want to discuss:

  • Any signs or symptoms that they are worried about
  • Blood pressure, blood sugar or weight, if they are able to measure these at home
  • Most recent blood results
  • Mobility, daily living, and support needs
  • Medicines (tablets)
  • Diet
  • Asking how they are (emotional and mental health)
  • Personal updates, such as employment or holidays or family issues

End of the call

Ask if patients have any other concerns or questions.

After the call

Let your patient know when their next appointment will be scheduled, or if they need to get in touch with the admin team to arrange one themselves.

Remote consultations: qualitative feedback from patients

The timing can be difficult, if I’m busy it does partly restrict what you can say if you’re out and about. Don’t know what time they will call so you don’t know whether to stay in. For some people at work, it can be difficult.
It was okay but you could be waiting up to an hour before they would come and ‘see’ you. So, if your appointment was at say 11, you would keep your phone on or your laptop on until they allow you to enter the room.
Some of it might have been down to trust because I was questioned on whether I was doing the dialysis I said I was doing, which I found frustrating because I was doing it, very much so. And the fact that it wasn’t working, and I wasn’t feeling any better, I was just feeling worse, wasn’t exactly going to make me feel great, then being accused, or hinted of an accusation, that that was going on. So maybe some of it was the lack of trust as well.