Virtual gynecological clinics were uncommon in the UK and most other nations prior to the COVID-19 epidemic. Telemedicine was quickly and widely implemented in hospitals across the United Kingdom as a result of the necessity to reorganize health care in order to care for COVID-19 patients, which also resulted in fewer people visiting hospitals and more mobility restrictions. This occurred without extensive interaction with healthcare providers and service consumers. Telemedicine is expected to persist to some degree beyond the epidemic. The authors provide the results of a nationwide study of 200 service consumers and healthcare professionals, as well as the implementation of virtual phone consultations in gynecology at a big teaching hospital in London. It is now crucial to conduct a thorough review of the results (clinician and patient experience) and to ensure that service users from underprivileged backgrounds do not suffer as a result.
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The first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the United Kingdom, just like it did on the United States, with hospitals nearly full of COVID-19 cases. Gynecology outpatient services were suspended for a few weeks in March 2020 during the first wave, and patients were placed on a waiting list. Physicians were used to assist the obstetrical burden or the nursing staff in the intensive care unit.
Patients waiting for surgery for benign or malignant illnesses were kept on lengthy waiting lists without enough elective operating facilities available, which posed a severe threat to the health and well-being of the country.1. As of this writing, the UK’s ability to perform elective surgery has not been restored due to the pandemic. The clinical burden was increased by caring for women who were put on waiting lists and had medical concerns that needed to be treated, such menstruation abnormalities or pelvic discomfort. Furthermore, during the wait, conditions that affect women, such endometriosis and fibroids, were given more attention.2.
In order to prevent ambulatory patients from being exposed to COVID-19, hospitals had to reduce the number of visitors. As a result, waiting rooms were redesigned to allow for a 2-meter distance between patients, and visitors were not allowed. Hospitals were also reconfigured into a traffic light system of safety areas. Temperature checks and mask wearing were also implemented.
Prior to the pandemic, increasing the percentage of virtual visits was a stated health policy goal, and during the epidemic, this method of providing healthcare became a priority.3. Before the pandemic, gynecological virtual clinics were not prevalent in the UK National Health Service (NHS); in the United States, however, they were beginning to appear, but not widely (evaluated by Dorn et al4).
In the summer of 2020, a quick study revealed that telemedicine was used in gynecology in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. However, there were no reports of gynecological telemedicine from Asia, South America, or Africa. The clinical activities that were evaluated comprised management, assessment, and counseling.5.
In order to lower the risk of transmission within the healthcare system and promote adherence to government guidelines on social distancing and “stay at home” while still providing services, there was a widespread recognition during the pandemic of the need to increase the number of remote consultations (and decrease the number of in-person consultations). An attempt was made to offer one-stop clinics where endometrial biopsies and scanning could be done. In a timely manner, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offered helpful advice.Six
While media and officials touted the revolutionary possibilities of video appointments, the majority of service users (SUs) had little choice but to arrange telephone appointments.7. At the height of the epidemic, this strategy could have been appropriate, but it was used quickly and often without sufficient support, direction, screening, or patient choice. Virtual appointments need to be scrutinized to see what worked and what didn’t in order to make them “work” in the future.
The authors talked about a short survey that was conducted in early 2021 in light of the pandemic experience in their gynecological unit, as well as current guidelines and research. Strategies for enhancing telemedicine in gynecology were emphasized, along with areas that require more research.