Objective: To determine the role of telephone consultations in respiratory medicine.
Design: An observational study.
Setting: Respiratory outpatients department in an inner London teaching hospital.
Participants: Five-hundred sequential patients attending three different outpatient respiratory clinics.
Intervention: Substitution of the next intended consultation with a telephone consultation.
Outcome measures: Proportion of patients suitable for telephone consultation, their availability when telephoned, length of consultation and patient satisfaction.
Conclusions: Telephone consultations are an effective alternative to traditional consultations in a third of respiratory patients attending for hospital follow-up. This style of consultation allows the option of not attending the hospital for a consultation and 23.9% had their consultation at their place of work.