Impact of a telephone-first consultation system in general practice

Diane Miller, Angela M Loftus, Peter J O'Boyle, Martin McCloskey, John O'Kelly, Donna Mace, Neil McKeon, Sian-Lee Ewan, Laura Moore, Aine Abbott, Shane Cunning, Mark O McCarron, Anthony M Paget

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of the study Increasing pressure on general practice prompts innovative change in service organisation. This study sought to evaluate the impact of introducing a telephone-first consultation system in a socioeconomically deprived population. Study design An interrupted time series of preplanned outcomes for 2 years before and 1 year postintroduction of a telephone-first system was used to measure the volume and type of general practitioner (GP) consultations and the number of patients consulted per year. Emergency department (ED) and GP out-of-hours attendances, the number of outpatient referrals, and the number of requests for laboratory tests were measured as secondary outcomes. Results The telephone-first system was associated with a 20% increase in total GP consultations (telephone and face-to-face, effect estimate at 12 months, p=0.001). Face-to-face consultations decreased by 39% (p Conclusions A telephone-first system in a deprived urban general practice can decrease delays to GP–patient contacts. The number of patients seeking a medical intervention did not differ irrespective of the consultation system used. The telephone-first system did not affect GP out-of-hours, laboratory investigations or secondary care contacts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-595
JournalPostgraduate medical journal
Issue number1129
Early online date20 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished online - 20 Jul 2019


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