Experiences of telehealth in general practice in Australia: research protocol for a mixed-methods study

BJGP Open. 2022 Mar 22;6(1):BJGPO.2021.0187. doi: 10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0187. Print 2022 Mar.


Background: Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth has expanded rapidly. However, little is known about the impact of delivering care through telehealth on communication between clinicians and patients. At an interactional level, the ways in which clinicians establish rapport and connection with their patients in telehealth consultations is not well understood.

Aim: This study will explore interactional practices of GPs and patients in telehealth consultations to develop evidence-based resources to improve communication.

Design & setting: The study will be conducted within the Australian general practice setting.

Method: Conversation analysis and sociolinguistic discourse analysis of recorded telehealth consultations will provide direct evidence of specific elements contributing to successful and less successful instances of telehealth communication. This analysis will be complemented by co-design techniques such as qualitative and reflective interviews, and collaborative workshops with telehealth users including both GPs and patients.

Conclusion: Effective communication is critical for telehealth consultations and is central to achieving optimal clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Evidence-based guidelines encompassing effective telehealth communication strategies will be co-developed with end-users in this study.

Keywords: Australia; COVID-19; communication; digital health; general practitioners; referral and consultation; telehealth; telemedicine.