Comparison of television and telephone for remote medical consultation

N Engl J Med. 1975 Apr 3;292(14):729-32. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197504032921406.


Television and telephone communications were randomly used to compare their effectiveness in allowing consultation between a hospital-based physician and remote nurse practitioners. Visits using television for consultation averaged 50 minutes as compared with 40 minutes for telephone. This difference was caused by longer work-ups before the consultation, longer delays after it was requested, and longer consultations, themselves, on television. However, television consultations resulted in significantly fewer immediate referrals of patients to hospital physicians: 6 plus or minus 1 as compared to 12 plus or minus 1 per cent (mean plus or minus S.E.M) OF ALL TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS (P SMALLER THAN 0.005). Although no overall difference in satisfaction was documented between the results of television and telephone consultations, participants preferred the former for medical decision making and cited it for allowing more social interaction than telephone. These findings suggest that television may have its greatest value in remote sites where the sense of isolation is great and the need to reduce long-distance referrals offsets the costs of the system.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Primary Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Telephone* / statistics & numerical data
  • Television*
  • Time Factors