Email communication at the medical primary-secondary care interface: a qualitative exploration

Rod Sampson, Rosaline Barbour, Philip Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Abstract Background There is little published research into the influence of email communication between primary and secondary care clinicians on patient care. Aim To explore the use of email communication between clinicians across the primary– secondary care interface, and how this may relate to patient care. Design and setting A qualitative study involving primary and secondary care services in the NHS Highland Health Board area, Scotland. Ten GPs and 12 hospital consultants were purposively sampled to reflect diversity. Method Eligible clinicians were invited to take part in a semi-structured interview. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Results Key themes that emerged for clinicians included general perceptions of email; using email in practice (managing workload, impact on patient journeys, and ‘quick answers’); system issues (variability and governance); relational aspects; and email skills. Conclusion Email communication between primary and secondary care clinicians generally has a positive impact on patient access to specialist expertise. Governance issues around the use of clinical email need to be defined. There may currently be a two-tier health service for those patients (and their GPs) requiring ‘quick answers’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-473
Number of pages7
JournalThe British Journal of General Practice
Volume66
Issue number648
Early online date10 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • email
  • interface
  • patient care
  • primary health care
  • relationship
  • secondary care

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