Background The key defining attribute which delineates the focus group from other methods is that data are generated through the process of group interaction with participants communicating with each other as opposed to solely with the group moderator. Aim Technological advancements have prompted us to reflect on how focus groups are adopted and reported. Discussion We recognise that the term ‘focus group’ is sometimes used synonymously with ‘group interview’ but think now this practice must be challenged. The way in which interactions will take place across group interviews and focus groups vary. Yet all are referred to as a focus group, both virtual and in-person, resulting in a broad umbrella term for its numerous manifestations. The use of the term ‘focus group’ does not accurately describe these newly emerging forms and the range of options currently employed by qualitative researchers. We suggest using terms which clearly indicate the type of space and synchronicity pre-fixed with in-person or conventional to identify the traditional focus groups, and we suggest separating group interviews in the virtual space into synchronous and asynchronous interviews, based on whether the participants and researchers have the opportunity to engage with each other in real time, or not Conclusion There is a need to reach a consensus about the nature of focus groups and group interviews and where their differences and similarities lie. Implications for practice We hope to encourage health researchers to give thought to these issues when labelling, planning, analysing and reporting a focus group study.