Virtual conferencing & remote consultations

Published on: 27th April 2020 | Updated on: 8th February 2024

Video or audio conferencing is a method of communication involving a live visual and/or audio connection between two or more people in different locations.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this technology has been widely adopted across society, including use for virtual meetings and conferences within the NHS and the community pharmacy sector. This includes use of products such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

A remote consultation involves a pharmacy team member and a patient using this type of technology to undertake a consultation.

Guidance and resources on remote consultations

The following guidance and resources provide key information for pharmacy owners to read and consider before conducting remote consultations:

NHS England Remote Consultations Guide for Pharmacy Teams (2022)

Using video conferencing and consultation tools (NHS England)

Video consulting with your patients – a quick guide for NHS staff (University of Oxford/NHS)

Video consulting with your NHS – a quick guide for patients (University of Oxford/NHS)

NHS website video consultations webpage (for patients)

Remote consultations: how pharmacy teams can practise them successfully (Pharmaceutical Journal)

Considerations for pharmacy owners ahead of using remote consultations include:

  • the robustness of your pharmacy’s WiFi connection
  • the hardware you will need, e.g. webcams, headsets, laptops or mobile devices
  • remote meeting/consultation software
  • training of staff
  • scheduling of consultations, e.g. whether consultations will be performed during set times each day, use of appointments and booking systems
  • confirmation that your indemnity insurance covers remote consultations

Choosing a remote consultation system

When choosing a remote consultation system to use in your pharmacy, careful consideration should be given to a range of issues, including:

  • the usability of the system for your pharmacy team and for patients
  • any potential existing patient familiarity with systems, i.e. systems they may already be familiar with using with other healthcare providers
  • cost of the system and value for money
  • the quality of the system from the patient’s perspective and any reputational risks for your pharmacy
  • an assessment of the data security features of the product

Before concluding the choice of a product, NHS England’s video conferencing guidance says a risk assessment should be undertaken.

There are a wide range of potential video consultation options to choose from. NHS England has a list of systems that met the standards for their Digital First Online Consultation and Video Consultation framework which provides a good starting point from which to identify a potential solution for your pharmacy.

NHSmail Microsoft Teams

All community pharmacy NHSmail users have the ability to use Microsoft Teams as part of their NHSmail licence.

Pharmacy teams can download the Teams app to pharmacy computers and mobile devices, and then use its audio, video and messaging functionality to communicate with NHSmail users within and outside of your organisation.

NHSmail Microsoft Teams and upgrade factsheet

For more information on this topic please email

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