The pandemic has brought online consultation into the mainstream with enormous benefits for women……writes Dr. Nina Wilson, founder of One Woman Health, the clinic dedicated to optimising health and wellbeing for women in midlife.
In 2018, I was medical director for Europe’s largest provider of online GP appointments, responsible for the quality and safety of the clinical service and the tech that went with it. At that time, consulting by video was still somewhat ‘niche’, embraced mainly by private insurers for time-poor city-dwellers. A year later, Covid-19 was upon us and almost overnight, consulting online went mainstream.
Around the country, doctors in local surgeries and hospitals took a bold but calculated step into the unknown and got to grips with what worked and what didn’t, what could be managed safely and what couldn’t.
Online consultation can’t replace face-to-face interaction wholesale. Listening to someone’s chest or performing a smear test, for example, is not something that can be done over Zoom! Plus, there are the relational aspects of being in the same room as someone, arguably more critical in a 10 minute conversation than when there is an hour for you and your doctor to get to know one another.
But, for situations where remote consultation works, it has revolutionised the experience of an appointment with the doctor for a variety of reasons. Online menopause care is one area leading the way.
The benefits of online menopause care
Access. The number of GP menopause specialists in the country is growing but many women still struggle if there isn’t one in their particular surgery. Online consultations offer access to a specialist no matter where you are in England.
Convenience. An online menopause care consultation can fit more easily into a busy day than taking time out to travel to and from an appointment. During interviews, working women cited time as a common reason they put their own health needs on the back-burner, as their daily productivity was at its limit between jobs and family commitments. Reducing such barriers to women taking care of their own health needs at this important time is an enormous success.
Comfort. With a video consultation, you can be seen privately in the comfort and privacy of your own surroundings. Not to be underestimated, this makes many people feel more comfortable and is a more equal experience, as you’re on ‘home turf’. This may seem subtle but in fact, it was these nuances that many women revealed made them uncomfortable and anxious about the experience of health care. This in turn made the difference between them seeking support and putting it off.
Time. This is increasingly pressured in a post-pandemic NHS with growing waiting lists and a workforce crisis. Just getting an appointment for management of menopause can be difficult as the NHS fire-fights the daily emergencies. Private care gives women the time to explore all their symptoms in detail and address what may be a variety of causes. Many women find themselves confused as to the cause of their symptoms. As Mariella Frostrup writes:
‘Initially, as in my case, changes may well be vague and get gradually worse over time. It can be near impossible to know whether you are perimenopausal, grumpy, ill, overworked, in a bad relationship, stressed and – knowing modern women – with a permanent and overriding sense of guilt that it’s entirely, if inexplicably, your fault.’
Mariella Frostrup. Cracking the Menopause While Keeping Yourself Together
In my private online menopause care consultations, we cover menopause symptoms and their management but we also have time to explore other critical factors affecting wellbeing in a way that is not possible in 10 minutes. The truth is that the factors having the most profound impact on wellbeing are often the most sensitive – mood, relationships, grief, sex – and you just can’t rush it.
Women have told me that the feeling of being on a conveyor belt, conscious of the limits on the other person’s time, leads them to downplay the impact their symptoms are having on their life. Taking time to properly unpick the causes of various symptoms can set you on a new path to health and well-being for the future.
Making the most of your online menopause care appointment:
- Prepare your thoughts – our online form you are sent prior to the appointment helps you gather your thoughts so you can focus on what matters in the consultation
- If you sign up to our mailing list you will be sent a checklist to help you prepare – whoever you are seeing about your menopause care
- Prepare your space – ensure you have the time set aside free from distractions in a space that is comfortable and private
- Check your internet connection is up to it – there is little more frustrating than a flakey internet connection leading to problems
- Plan B- make sure your provider has your telephone number so they can call you if there are issues with a connection- we will always try to call if there are any problems
Dr. Nina Wilson runs One Woman Health, a clinic that specialises in helping women optimise their health, feel their best and perform at their peak in mid-life. She works 1:1 with individuals and also offers a range of corporate programmes for employers, allowing them to take great care of their staff. To book an online menopause care appointment click here or for more information, contact us.
Cracking the Menopause While Keeping Yourself Together by Mariella Frostrup and Alice Smellie can be bought from all good booksellers including Amazon