The place of information and communication technology-mediated consultations in primary care: GPs' perspectives

Fam Pract. 2012 Jun;29(3):361-6. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmr087. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Background: New information and communication technologies such as email and text messaging have been shown to be useful in some aspects of primary care service delivery. Little is known about Scottish GPs' attitudes towards the adoption of these technologies as routine consultation tools.

Objectives: To explore GPs' perceptions of the potential place of new non-face-to-face consultation technologies in the routine delivery of primary care; to explore GPs' perceived barriers to the introduction of these technologies and to identify the processes by which GPs feel that new consultation technologies could be incorporated into routine primary care.

Methods: Qualitative interview study: 20 in-depth semi-structured interviews carried out with maximum variation sample of GPs across Scotland.

Results: Whilst the face-to-face consultation was seen as central to much of the clinical and diagnostic work of primary care, many GPs were conditionally willing to consider using new technologies in the future, particularly to carry out administrative or less complex tasks and therefore maximize practice efficiency and patient convenience. Key considerations were access to appropriate training, IT support and medico-legal guidance.

Conclusions: GPs are conditionally willing to use new consultation media if clinically appropriate and if medico-legal and technical support is available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication*
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • General Practice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • General Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Remote Consultation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Scotland
  • Text Messaging
  • Workload
  • Young Adult