The effectiveness of teleconsultations in primary care: systematic review

Sara Carrillo De Albornoz San Juan, Kah-Ling Sia, Anthony Harris

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79 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has focussed attention on models of healthcare that avoid face-to-face contacts between clinicians and patients, and teleconsultations have become the preferred mode of primary care delivery. However, the effectiveness of remote consultations in this setting remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of telephone or video consultations compared to those conducted face-to-face on key patient-relevant outcomes and healthcare utilisation in primary care, mental health and allied health services, which have had a critical role in the management of the wider and longer-term consequences of COVID-19. METHODS: A systematic review of primary studies comparing telephone or video consultations versus face-to-face visits, following the PRISMA guidelines. RESULTS: Overall, consultations delivered by telephone and videoconference were as effective as face-to-face in-person visits to improve clinical outcomes in adults with mental health conditions and those attending primary care services. Patient satisfaction with telephone and video consultations and the therapeutic alliance was high across the studies. However, high discontinuation rates in patients receiving teleconsultations indicate this may not be a suitable modality of healthcare delivery for all patients. Teleconsultations offer significant patient time savings in primary care, but appropriate implementation, including training of healthcare professionals and management of technical issues, is essential to ensure effective and valuable clinical interventions. CONCLUSIONS: Teleconsultations via telephone or videoconference are an effective alternative to face-to-face consultations for many patients attending primary care and mental health services. Teleconsultations have the potential to deliver time-efficient and lower-cost interventions at a distance while improving access to healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-182
Number of pages15
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Mental health
  • primary care
  • remote consultation
  • teleconsultation
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

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