Face-to-Face with the Doctor Online: Phenomenological Analysis of Patient Experience of Teleconsultation

Māra Grīnfelde (Coresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has considerably accelerated the adoption of teleconsultation – a form of consultation between patient and health care professional that occurs via videoconferencing platforms. For this reason, it is important to investigate the way in which this form of interaction modifies the nature of the clinical encounter and the extent to which this modification impacts the healing process. For this purpose, I will refer to insights into the clinical encounter as a face-to-face encounter drawn from the phenomenology of medicine (R. Zaner, K. Toombs, E. Pellegrino). I will also take into account a criticism that has been expressed by various contemporary phenomenologists (H. Dreyfus, T. Fuchs, L. Dolezal, H. Carel), namely, that due to the lack of physical proximity to the other in all types of online encounters, such encounters lack significant features that are present in face-to-face encounters, with the most important of these being the possibility of attaining an empathetic perception of the other and a sense of embodied risk. As these elements are essential features of the clinical encounter, the aim of this paper is to determine whether teleconsultation exhibits these features. To do that, I will integrate phenomenological philosophy with qualitative research drawing materials from both the philosophical tradition, particularly with respect to the concepts of the face-to-face encounter and embodied risk (A. Schutz and H. Dreyfus), and qualitative research study regarding patient experiences of teleconsultation. I will argue that teleconsultation does involve both the possibility of perceiving the other empathetically and the possibility of experiencing a sense of embodied risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-696
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • phenomenology
  • teleconsultation
  • face-to-face encounter
  • embodied risk
  • qualitative research
  • clinical encounter

Field of Science*

  • 6.5 Other humanities
  • 6.3 Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
  • 5.9 Other social sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


Dive into the research topics of 'Face-to-Face with the Doctor Online: Phenomenological Analysis of Patient Experience of Teleconsultation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this