Alt-Con Project

The Alt-Con Project: the potential of alternatives to face-to-face consultation in general practice, and the impact on different patient groups

Project summary

There is great interest in the potential of alternatives to face to face consultations in general practice, such as greater use of consultations conducted via telephone, email, or internet video.

However there is debate about the costs and benefits of these different approaches. This research will explore the potential role of different types of consultation method, for different types of problem, different types of patient and in different general practice settings.

We will conduct a synthesis of qualitative and quantitative research on the effects of these alternatives, and a scoping exercise to identify how widely these alternative consultation types are being used.

We will then do in-depth case studies with a number of practices which have tried to use different types of alternatives to face to face consultations. Based on interviews with staff and patients, observation of practice life, and anonymised patient records, we will explore what practices achieved, how they did or did not overcome difficulties, and what they perceived were the advantages and disadvantages for different groups of patients.

Finally we will develop a theory and recommendations about the most promising application of alternatives to face to face consultations and provide a framework for evaluation of subsequent initiatives.

Read more about the project.

Key aim

To understand how, under what conditions, for which patients, and in what ways, alternatives to face-to-face consultations may offer benefits to patients and practitioners in general practice and to use this understanding to develop recommendations for general practices and a framework for subsequent definitive evaluation.

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