University of Leicester Medical School will be the first in the UK to teach students how to hold online consultations as part of its curriculum.

From the beginning of this month, the university will teach first year medial students how to do virtual consultations, using the patient records access portal Patients Know Best.

Dr Ron Hsu, innovation lead and senior teaching fellow at the medical school, said online consultations would play an increasing role in a doctor’s career.

“GPs and specialists alike are going to need to know how to communicate and interact with patients using these technologies,” he said.

“Our hope is that by putting online consultation early in our undergraduate teaching, we will not only prepare our students for the future but help them improve the level of care they provide patients.”

The first year students will hold consultations with virtual patients and will be taught how to get information from patients online, how to deal with complex medical cases, how to respond to questions and follow-ups and what type of online consultation methods to choose.

The university will evaluate the project and will also monitor the language that junior doctors use in their online communications.

Dr Mohammad Al’Ubaydli, founder and CEO of Patients Know Best, said he hoped the project would create a curriculum and make it available to other medical schools.

"The biggest barrier to doctors conducting online consultations is that no-one taught them how to do so,” he said.

“Leicester’s approach is world pioneering.”

The government is also pushing online consultations. It announced this week that GPs can apply to a new £50m Challenge Fund to offer online consultations, online appointment booking and telecare to patients.