'In-person' terminology clarified

'In-person' illustration - April 2020

The NZ Telehealth Leadership Group (TLG) is stepping up its effort to ensure common language is used to describe telehealth. One area which has caused much confusion is the use of the term 'face-to-face'.

Eliminate the term 'face-to-face'

Telehealth advisor Andrew Panckhurst says that "using incorrect terms can cause confusion, especially when those terms are incorporated into professional guidelines and standards. The term 'face-to-face' is the one that creates the most confusion. For some, it may mean being in the same room, for others they would consider a video call as face-to-face. It just isn't a very accurate description so we would like to see its use stopped. We unfortunately still see terminology used inconsistently by providers, professional bodies and the media, so are encouraging people and organisations to take the time and choose their wording carefully."

'In-person' terminology encouraged

The TLG is strongly encouraging the use of the term 'in-person' to describe a meeting or consultation when people are in the same physical space. "its a very clear, unambiguous description of the interaction between patient and provider" says Mr Panckhurst.

Many have already started to use the 'in-person' terminology, for example, the Medical Council introduced this terminology into their telehealth statement. Using 'in-person' is a small and simple change to make, so the TLG is confident there will be strong support for this campaign.

telehealth inperson illustration