Patient and family perceptions of the provision of medicines as part of virtual outpatient consultations for children during COVID-19 pandemic

BMJ Open Qual. 2022 Dec;11(4):e001916. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2022-001916.


Objectives: To evaluate (1) views and perceptions of patients/parents/carers and healthcare professionals on the medicines optimisation (MO) process following virtual outpatient clinic (VOC) during the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) the processes introduced at this time, identifying areas for improvements and suggest potential solutions.

Design: A mixed-methods service evaluation using qualitative and quantitative methods of the MO pathway in children aged 0-18 years following VOC across three specialist children's units.Semi-structured interviews were conducted over the telephone with the participants exploring their experiences and categorised into themes.Process mapping sessions with the multidisciplinary team identified areas for improvement and an ease impact framework developed for potential solutions.Outcome measures included: (1) themes from interviews, (2) patients satisfaction rates, (3) process maps and (4) development of a simplified future process.

Results: One hundred and twenty-five patients' families were contacted: 71 families consented to participate and their views were categorised into four main themes: (1) patient experience, (2) communication, (3) need for virtual video consultations for patient education by hospital pharmacists and (4) need for electronic processes to send prescriptions to local pharmacies.Median patient satisfaction rate was 96% (range 67%-100%). The convenience of receiving medications directly to patient's homes; access to medicines information helplines and education provided by pharmacists were regarded as valuable. Communication between care providers, development of virtual video consultations by hospital pharmacists and electronic transfer of some prescriptions directly to community pharmacies were identified as areas of improvement.

Conclusions: Participants appreciated the pharmacy processes adopted during the pandemic, however, challenges and recommendations for improvement in delivering MO VOC were identified. As digital innovations evolve within the NHS, future research should focus on integrated care and improved communication between care providers with selected medications prescribed directly to community pharmacies using electronic prescription service, with clinical screening and education provided by hospital pharmacists.

Keywords: COVID-19; Paediatrics; Pharmacists; Qualitative research; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Outpatients
  • Pandemics
  • Parents
  • Pediatrics
  • Pharmaceutical Services*
  • Pharmacists
  • Qualitative Research
  • Telemedicine*