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Sample Masters Healthcare Literature Review

Published by at December 13th, 2022 , Revised On February 2, 2024


The Significance of Virtual Clinics in the UK

The research conducted by Greenhalgh et al. (2016) mentioned that the provision of technology-supported consultation services to the patients has been found as the least partial solution to dealing with complex care needs. Gentles, Lokker, and McKibbon (2010) stated that the utilisation of the latest technology also contributes to dealing with the challenges of an increasingly diverse population.

In addition, Choi et al. (2014) mentioned that the advancement in technology has also positively influenced the lifespan of the individuals suffering from comorbid illness, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. Clarke et al. (2017) mentioned that analysing the context of the UK, a considerable number of the population has been managing illness due to having high levels of confidence in dealing with chronic and co-morbid illnesses.

In addition, Tsaousis et al. (2016) mentioned that the advancement in telecommunication has also benefited the informal care providers of individuals suffering from long-term illnesses. Gunn et al. (2018) mentioned that the National Information Board of the UK revealed the requirement to analyse the epidemiological as well as the demographic trends, including the latest technology despite traditional outpatient consultation.

Since the decades of the 1990s, the National Healthcare Services of the United Kingdom (UK) had focused on the nurse-led clinics for meeting the needs and requirements of the patients (Shepherd et al., 2015). Analysing the efficacy of virtual clinics on the health outcomes of the UK population, the NHS has been focusing on increasing the number of virtual clinics.

The virtual clinics have been facilitating the General Practitioners, the consultants, as well as the specialist nurses for managing several outpatients at a time, saving time, improving patient care, as well as for the provision of face to face appointments to the individuals who require consultation with the healthcare professionals.

Sechi et al. (2016) stated that the establishment of virtual clinics in the UK also resulted in effective decision making, and consultation, as well as carrying out the outcome analysis. The establishment of virtual clinics in the UK has been offering the potential advantage to the service user, saving the spared cost and the inconvenience of travel.

In addition, virtual clinics are also likely to facilitate the clinics by providing cost-effective care services to the service users. However, Kerr and Lamb were,. and Hardavella (2018) stated that the establishment of virtual clinics might be clinically risky and less acceptable for the service users, or the family members of the service users.

The contribution of the latest technology in improving the quality of life of the general population has been highlighted by several authors (Baker and Bufka, 2011). Hjorth et al. (2018) stated that virtual environments have been providing safe and repeated activities that have been widely utilised in training and improving the skills of the intellectually disabled population.

In addition, Corrigall et al. (2018) mentioned that virtual clinics also provide a clinical environment for the patients and the healthcare professionals for dealing virtually with medical complications. Virtual clinics possess the contribution of technology for improving the quality of healthcare services provided to patients.

On the contrary, Sechi et al. (2016) demonstrated that the utilisation of technology for the generation of virtual reality is likely to contribute to carrying out the analysis of the clinical conditions of the patients for determining whether or not the patients require immediate consultation to the healthcare professionals.

Gunn et al. (2018) stated that the NHS has been emphasising the establishment as well as the making further improvements within the virtual clinics for dealing with the potential complications created due to the outpatient appointments. Kotecha et al. (2015) stated that analysing the context of the UK outpatient clinics, despite the provision of a range of facilities, the service users are required to wait for a longer time duration within the Outpatient Departments (OPDs).

In this regard, Shaw et al. (2017) mentioned that the establishment of virtual clinics have been providing more accessible and cost-effective clinical care to the service users by replacing the routine follow-up outpatient appointments with the web-based consultations.

The research conducted by Roberts et al. (2015) analysed the perceptions of patients about the efficacy of virtual reality, such that the research outcomes revealed that the service users reported that the virtual clinics are better as compared to face to face appointments, due to contributing to saving time.

On the other hand, Kotecha et al. (2015) mentioned that the perceptions of the service users about virtual clinics further revealed that the establishment of virtual clinics saved them from unnecessary visits to the outpatient clinics and hospitals.

In addition, Botella et al. (2015) found that perceptions of nurses and other healthcare professionals about the efficacy of the virtual clinics, and found that virtual clinics cannot completely replace the clinics up to a certain extent, such that the establishment of these clinics assist the healthcare professionals in decision making, consulting, and carrying out outcome analysis.

However, the research conducted byAthanasopoulos and Athanasiou (2016) mentioned that providing care services to patients through virtual clinics increases the risk of acquiring false-positive results. Specifically, virtual clinics might fail to provide clinical assistance to the patients requiring treatment for co-morbid illnesses.

Impacts of Virtual Clinics on Health Inequalities

Arcaya, Arcaya, and Subramanian (2015) stated that the local and national healthcare authorities of the UK have been emphasising the removal of health disparities within the UK; however, still, the number of individuals experiencing health disparities in the UK has not been reduced.

Shah et al. (2018) mentioned that the health of the population having special care needs has been a long-standing concern, and has been cast within the framework of health disparities as well as inequalities. Egan et al. (2016) stated that similar to the other countries of the world, the number of the population having special care needs within the UK has also been increasing; therefore, NHS has been contributing to the minimise the risk of health inequality experienced by these patients by utilising a range of strategies.

The report presented by the Department of Health (2012) mentioned that the NHS possess alignment with the Health and Social Care Act 2012 for reducing the risk of health inequality experienced by the UK population having special care needs. The NHS has been involved in analysing the inequality gaps by considering the quality of primary care available for the general population, as well as the individuals having special care needs.

In addition, the NHS also identified health inequalities within the UK by considering the waiting times within the OPDS, emergency hospitalisation, and the accessibility of healthcare services.

The evidence reported that specifically for the individuals having special care needs, there is a requirement to reduce waiting times, for the prevention of premature and preventable deaths (Walters et al., 2018). In this regard, the establishment and managing of the virtual nurse-led screening clinics are considered one the proactive ways the provision equitable services for individuals having special care needs.

Within the UK, the virtual clinics for the population are managed by the nursing professionals, which has been contributing to minimising the health inequalities within the UK in some ways (Gentles, Lokker, and McKibbon, 2010). The nurse-led virtual care clinics have not been only contributing to the development of skills and expertise of nurses; rather are also assisting the general population in accessing the healthcare services without waiting for a longer period (Sechi et al., 2016).

The nurse-led virtual clinics within the UK are most often established within as well as between the specialities; however, overall the establishment of these clinics allows the patients living with multiple comorbidities to readily access the clinical experts in case of clinical complications (Kotecha et al., 2018).

The establishment of virtual clinics within the UK has caused a significant reduction in the rates of mortality because the nurse-led virtual clinics provide recommendations to immediately consult the physicians. Marks and Sisirak (2017) mentioned that the nurses operating the virtual care clinics possess high levels of autonomy and the ability for making detailed care decisions related to the hospital admission, discharge, and referral of the patient to the specialized healthcare professionals.

In this regard, the evidence reported that the establishment of virtual clinics for individuals having special care needs is likely to result in a significant reduction in healthcare inequalities experienced by these patients.

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The Care-Related Requirements of Intellectual Disabled Population

Vilaseca et al. (2017) stated that advancements in medical technology and healthcare have significantly improved the survival rates of children suffering from serious medical complications. In this regard, globally, there is an increased prevalence of the population possessing complex health care needs as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Emerson and Baines (2011) stated that the intellectually-disabled population requires constant support from their informal care providers, as well as from other healthcare professionals for matching the capabilities of these individuals with environmental demands.

The literature suggested that individuals having intellectual disabilities experience difficulties in following the educational curriculum (Carulla et al., 2011). For this reason, technology-based virtual reality setups have been established for these individuals. Krahn, Walker, and Correa-De-Araujo (2015) stated that the intellectually disabled population require the resources and strategies for promoting the development, education, interests, and personal well-being of these individuals.

In addition, Robertson et al. (2011) stated that by analysing the potential impacts of the creation of virtual environment on the intellectual disabilities of patients, the local and national healthcare departments have focused on the development of virtual clinics for dealing with these patients.

The research conducted by Rich et al. (2012) stated that the clinical requirements of the intellectually disabled population differ from one another, depending on the severity of a disability, as well as the clinical complications experienced by these patients. In addition, Emerson, and Hatton (2014) mentioned that the national and local programs in most countries across the globe have been targeted toward the individuals with disabilities as well as the informal care providers of these individuals.

Emerson (2011) also mentioned that the needs and requirements of individuals with intellectual disabilities kept on changing with the advancement in their life, such that in some cases, these individuals experience continuous deterioration in their clinical symptoms. For this reason, intellectually disabled individuals require continuous care and support for dealing with the factors resulting in deterioration within their healthcare (Scior, 2011).

Trepagnier et al. (2011) stated that individuals with an intellectual disability avoid social interactions; therefore, also experience difficulty in visiting healthcare clinics. In addition, Szeftel et al. (2012) also mentioned that depending on the nature of the co-morbid illness, these individuals require special care and support for dealing with their illness, such that the medication taken for treating one condition is likely to result in worsening of the other condition.

In this regard, the establishment of virtual clinics is likely to facilitate these individuals due to constant follow-up of these individuals (Anderson et al., 2013). Bouck et al. (2014) also mentioned that the virtual clinics for individuals with intellectual disabilities require support from the informal care providers of these patients, for ascertaining the type and extent of support required by these individuals.

The Impacts of Virtual Clinics on Patients with Intellectual Disabilities

The individuals living with intellectual disabilities are often in poor health, due to chronic conditions, poor accessibility to the preventative screening, as well as the lack of knowledge of the healthcare providers, impeding the delivery of the quality healthcare (Anderson et al. 2013).

Analysing the context of the UK, the UK healthcare has strongly emphasised the availability of the care services for the individuals with intellectual disabilities. The intellectually disabled individuals are considered to possess mental retardation possessing one or more significant sensory or motor impairments, requiring pervasive support (Emerson and Baines, 2011).

In some cases, the physical and intellectual problems experienced by the intellectually disabled individuals result in more serious impairments, including the restriction of movement, speech disorders, visual and hearing disorders, and difficulty in learning and understanding (Vissers, Gilissen, and Veltman, 2016). The intellectually disabled individuals are also at an increased risk of delays in communication and social interaction; therefore, despite the severity of the clinical condition, these individuals are less likely to get comfortable with social interaction.

As the individuals diagnosed with an intellectual impairment are also at an increased risk of experiencing health disparities; therefore, these individuals are at risk of experiencing multiple comorbidities (Sechi et al., 2016). For this reason, the number of visits of these patients to the clinics and hospitals is more than other individuals (Carulla et al., 2011).

The research conducted by Sheehan et al. (2015) mentioned that due to comorbid illness, these individuals are at ongoing risk of preventable and premature deaths. In this regard, the formation of virtual clinics for individuals living with intellectual disabilities contributes to carrying out routine analyses of the clinical conditions of these patients.

The healthcare professionals caring for the intellectually disabled population via virtual clinics immediately refer these patients, in case of deterioration in their health of these patients.

The Significance of Nurse-Led Virtual Clinics for Intellectually Disabled Population

The nurse-led virtual clinics within the UK have been recognised for their advanced practices, including the detailed physiological assessment of the patient, effective and subsequent care planning, and the delivery of treatment to the individuals (Macdonald et al. 2018).

In addition, the nurse-led virtual clinics within the UK are effective in monitoring the patient’s conditions, managing the medication, and carrying out further referrals of the patients (Healey et al., 2016). The nursing professionals leading the virtual clinics also carry out the medicine management by utilising the patient group directions (PGDs), or by independent and supplementary nurse prescribing.

Numerous researches analysing the role of nurses in dealing with individuals with intellectual disabilities demonstrated that the lack of experience, as well as the clinical expertise of the nursing professionals, contribute to negative attitudes of nurses toward the patients having special care needs(Marks and Sisirak, 2017).

In this regard, the nurses dealing with individuals possessing intellectual disabilities are required to possess experience and expertise for carrying out a virtual assessment of the intellectually disabled individuals (Wang et al. 2018). Some of the educational institutes providing nursing programs possess specific courses for dealing with the requirements of the intellectually disabled population.

For this reason, the nursing professionals possessing the idea of the assistance required the healthcare professionals are likely to contribute to dealing with the comorbid illnesses of the intellectually disabled population.

Some of the researchers analysed the satisfaction levels of the patients about the nurse-led clinical assessment, and the outcomes of these researches revealed that the patient satisfaction levels were high within the nurse-led clinics (Healy et al.2018). In addition, Cubbin and Brada (2018) mentioned that the nurse-led assessment within virtual clinics has been also strongly associated with different aspects of care and service delivery.

The virtual clinics are preferred by the service users due to shorter waiting time, better coordination between the patients and the healthcare professionals, constant follow-up of the appropriateness of medications, and constant analysis of the impacts of these medications on the health outcomes of the patients (Frankland et al., 2017).

The nurse-led virtual clinics have been found as more effective in terms of the formation of therapeutic relationships between the nurses and the patients. The individuals living with intellectual disabilities and their informal care providers are capable of immediately acquiring support from the healthcare professionals even for a slight deterioration in the health of these patients (Macdonald et al. 2018).

Nursing professionals have effective counselling skills; therefore, these professionals are capable of communicating with the patients in better ways. In this regard, the nurse-led virtual clinics allow the patients and their family members to present their concerns in a relaxed atmosphere, without experiencing long waiting hours.

Specifically considering the context of individuals having special care needs, the nurse-led virtual clinics are also beneficial for the nursing professionals, allowing them in carrying out analysis of the health issues of the patients (Carulla et al., 2011). In addition, the treatment carried out by the nursing professionals via virtual clinics allows nursing professionals to take more time in understanding the complex needs of the patients.

Within the nurse-led virtual clinics, the nursing professionals deal with one patient at a time, such that the allocation of the appropriate time to the patient is likely to assist nursing professionals in carrying out an in-depth analysis of the patient (Athanasopoulos and Athanasiou, 2016).

Specifically, the intellectually disabled individuals suffer from multiple syndromes at a time; therefore, after carrying out an in-depth analysis of the clinical conditions of the patients, the nursing professionals can make decisions related to the referring these patients to the specialist based on the symptoms of patients (Healy et al.2018).

Analysing the context of the care-related requirements of the intellectually disabled individuals, the nurse-led virtual clinics are also capable of appropriately triaging the referrals from outside, such as from the general practitioners, and analysing these patients in a more timely manner.

In this regard, the nurse-led virtual clinics are also likely to contribute to managing these patients promptly, decreasing the waiting time of these patients, and also contributing to relieving the burden of workload on the healthcare professional (Macdonald et al. 2018). The outcome of research conducted by McAuliffe, Lami, and Lami (2016) also stated that the nurse-led virtual clinics for individuals with an intellectual disability within the UK are likely to contribute to improving the health outcomes of populations.


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McAuliffe, O., Lami, M. and Lami, T., 2016. The impact of virtual fracture clinics on medical education–a medical student perspective. Medical education online, 21.

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Shah, S.J., Schwamm, L.H., Cohen, A.B., Simoni, M.R., Estrada, J., Matiello, M., Venkataramani, A. and Rao, S.K., 2018. Virtual Visits Partially Replaced In-Person Visits In An ACO-Based Medical Specialty Practice. Health Affairs, 37(12), pp.2045-2051.

Shaw, S.E., Wherton, J., Vijayaraghavan, S., Morris, J., Bhattacharya, S., Hanson, P., Campbell-Richards, D., Ramoutar, S., Collard, A., Hodkinson, I. and Greenhalgh, T., 2017. Virtual online consultations: advantages and limitations (VOCAL). A mixed-method study at micro, meso and macro level.

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Tsaousis, K.T., Empeslidis, T., Konidaris, V.E., Kapoor, B. and Deane, J., 2016. The concept of virtual clinics in monitoring patients with age‐related macular degeneration. Acta ophthalmologica, 94(5), pp.e353-e355.

Vilaseca, R., Gràcia, M., Beltran, F.S., Dalmau, M., Alomar, E., Adam‐Alcocer, A.L. and Simó‐Pinatella, D., 2017. Needs and supports of people with intellectual disability and their families in Catalonia. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 30(1), pp.33-46.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual clinics reduce health inequality by improving access to healthcare, overcoming geographic barriers, reducing costs, and providing convenient remote consultations, thereby ensuring equitable healthcare delivery for underserved populations.

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