RESEARCH – June-july 2021

Use of patient reported questionnaires and possibilities of remote consultations in family practice:the results of a survey among family doctors and family nurses

Authors: Kadri Suija, Siim Nahkur, Reet Laidoja, Ruth Kalda

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Background. Health care professionals have the responsibility for evaluating patients’ condition. One way to fulfil this task is to use patient report questionnaires, which cen be used also in remote consultations.
Aim. To study family doctors` and family nurses` experience with remote consultations as well as to evaluate their expectations and possible obstacles in using patient questionnaires.
Methods. A web-based anonymous questionnaire was carried out among primary care physicians and nurses. We used descriptive statistics, Chi-square test and T-test to analyse the answers.
Results. Altogether 123 family doctors, 75 family nurses and 7 family medicine doctors in residency were enrolled. The health care workers reported that they needed approximately 11.0 minutes to collect information about complaints from each patient in order to understand their health problem. Sixtyfive percent of the respondents said that use of a patient reported questionnaire before the consultation decreased their workload. Mostly they preferred that the questionnaire was filled in digitally before the visit. Of the doctors and nurses 83% admitted that they did not always use the recommended questionnaires. The most prevalent reason for this was lack of time. The respondents reported that more than one third of family practice consultations could be conducted remotely, in most cases they had used the phone and e-mail to contact patients. About half of the personnel of the family practice centres had had technical problems with remote appointments.
Conclusions. The current study shows that the currently used patient questionnaires do not meet the needs of health care professionals and are therefore not always used. On the other hand, the respondents expected developments of new digital solutions and possibilities of remote consultations, which would facilitate clinical work.