Online GP consultation 'of limited use', study finds

From BBC - November 22, 2017

Online consultations may not be the key to reducing doctors' workload and cutting patient waiting time, a health service study has found.

NHS England is offering a 45m fund to support GP practices to adopt online consultation systems.

But researchers say evidence from a pilot shows the use and effectiveness of it is "limited".

eConsult said it had implemented recommendations from the research following a 15-month pilot.

The National Institute for Health Research-funded study evaluated eConsult - where patients can submit their symptoms to a GP electronically - which was piloted in 36 GP practices in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

It discovered 38% of the online consultations led to a face-to-face contact and a further 32% led to a phone consultation.

The study, which was carried out by academics at the University of Bristol, also found usage was low at two online consultations per 1,000 patients.

It said usage was lowest out of hours, especially at the weekend.

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