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General practitioners’ perceptions of using virtual primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic: An international cross-sectional survey study

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Title: General practitioners’ perceptions of using virtual primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic: An international cross-sectional survey study
Authors: Li, E
Tsopra, R
Jimenez, G
Serafini, A
Gusso, G
Lingner, H
Fernandez, MJ
Irving, G
Petek, D
Hoffman, R
Lazic, V
Memarian, E
Koskela, T
Collins, C
Espitia, SM
Clavería, A
Nessler, K
O’Neill, BG
Hoedebecke, K
Ungan, M
Laranjo, L
Ghafur, S
Fontana, G
Majeed, A
Car, J
Darzi, A
Neves, AL
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: With the onset of COVID-19, general practitioners (GPs) and patients worldwide swiftly transitioned from face-to-face to digital remote consultations. There is a need to evaluate how this global shift has impacted patient care, healthcare providers, patient and carer experience, and health systems. We explored GPs’ perspectives on the main benefits and challenges of using digital virtual care. GPs across 20 countries completed an online questionnaire between June–September 2020. GPs’ perceptions of main barriers and challenges were explored using free-text questions. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. A total of 1,605 respondents participated in our survey. The benefits identified included reducing COVID-19 transmission risks, guaranteeing access and continuity of care, improved efficiency, faster access to care, improved convenience and communication with patients, greater work flexibility for providers, and hastening the digital transformation of primary care and accompanying legal frameworks. Main challenges included patients’ preference for face-to-face consultations, digital exclusion, lack of physical examinations, clinical uncertainty, delays in diagnosis and treatment, overuse and misuse of digital virtual care, and unsuitability for certain types of consultations. Other challenges include the lack of formal guidance, higher workloads, remuneration issues, organisational culture, technical difficulties, implementation and financial issues, and regulatory weaknesses. At the frontline of care delivery, GPs can provide important insights on what worked well, why, and how during the pandemic. Lessons learned can be used to inform the adoption of improved virtual care solutions and support the long-term development of platforms that are more technologically robust and secure.
Issue Date: 16-May-2022
Date of Acceptance: 28-Mar-2022
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/96816
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pdig.0000029
ISSN: 2767-3170
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Start Page: 1
End Page: 23
Journal / Book Title: PLOS Digital Health
Volume: 1
Issue: 5
Copyright Statement: © 2022 Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2022-05-16
Appears in Collections:Department of Surgery and Cancer
Institute of Global Health Innovation
Imperial College London COVID-19



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