1953 was a historic year: Elizabeth was crowned Queen; Hillary and Tenzing were first to climb mount Everest; Stalin died; and Watson and Crick published a short paper explaining the structure of DNA. Unlike the first three events, few members of the press attended Watson and Crick’s press conference, and the paper received by far the least publicity. For a few months, few paid attention, and fewer still understood the seminal importance of the paper. This is how the genomics revolution started: quietly.
60 years on, I have a similar feeling about October 4th 2013, when Leicester Medical School became the first in the UK to teach online consultations. (I believe they are the first in the world to do this, but they are academics, so they humbly limit the scope of their statements.) All its first year medical students are trained how to hold consultations online with virtual patients.
The biggest barrier to doctors conducting online consultations is that no one taught them how to do so. Although many doctors asked in public about online consultations, voicing concerns about patient safety and demands on time, the real reason is that no one taught them how to consult online safely and efficiently. As I wrote in The Guardian, we know that online consultations work. And as Action for ME showed in its public consultation with members, we know that patients want online consultations. So what remains is to teach tomorrow’s doctors.
Which makes Leicester’s course a historic one, and why we are proud to make Patients Know Best available to help train their students. As part of our work together, we will create a curriculum and make it available to other medical schools through an open access licence. If you would like to use PKB to teach your students how to consult online, contact us.