Evaluation of a digital consultation and self-care advice tool in primary care: a multi-methods study

Julie Cowie*, Eileen Calveley, Gillian Bowers, John Bowers

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Digital services are often regarded as a solution to the growing demands on primary care services. Provision of a tool offering advice to support self-management as well as the ability to digitally consult with a General Practitioner (GP) has the potential to alleviate some of the pressure on primary care. This paper reports on a Phase II, 6-month evaluation of eConsult, a web-based triage and consultation system that was piloted across 11 GP practices across Scotland. Through a multi-method approach the evaluation explored eConsult use across practices, exposing both barriers and facilitators to its adoption. Findings suggest that expectations that eConsult would offer an additional and alternative method of accessing GP services were largely met. However, there is less certainty that it has fulfilled expectations of promoting self-help. In addition, low uptake meant that evaluation of current effectiveness was difficult for practices to quantify. The presence of an eConsult champion(s) within the practice was seen to be a significant factor in ensuring successful integration of the tool. A lack of patient and staff engagement, insufficient support and lack of protocols around processes were seen as barriers to its success.
Original languageEnglish
Article number896
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2018

Keywords

  • digital health
  • primary care
  • self-management
  • implementation

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