Interaction at the primary–secondary care interface: Patients’ and physicians’ perceptions of teleconsultations

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Introduction: Previous qualitative research on teleconsultations has focused on synchronous communication between a patient and a clinician. This study aims to explore physicians' and patients' perceptions of the interaction on the interface between primary care and the Cardiology service of a referral hospital through teleconsultations. Methods: This qualitative study was embedded in an organizational case study concerning the introduction and rollout of a new service model that took place at the point of care. The patients and physicians were recruited for semi-structured interviews until thematic saturation was achieved, between September 2019 - January 2020. The interviews were audiorecorded and anonymized. The transcribed interviews were stored, coded, and analyzed in MAXQDA, following the steps for conventional content analysis. Results: A total of 29 participants were interviewed. Patients and physicians presented clear views about the role of the GP and the cardiologist and their function in overall structure of healthcare. GPs felt their role was to bring expertise in the patient which could supplement the cardiologists' expertise on the condition. However, GPs had to renegotiate roles in the teleconsultations when they saw themselves in a new situation, together with another physician and the patient. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that joint teleconsultations can promote continuity of care for patients in the primary/secondary care interface. Active coordination between physicians with delineation of roles throughout primary-secondary care interface is needed to manage selected patients who may benefit the most from shared care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Health
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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