Managing high frequency users of an electronic consultation system in primary care: a quality improvement project

BMJ Open Qual. 2021 Jun;10(2):e001310. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2020-001310.


The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rapid change in primary care provision. There was a significant shift from face-to-face appointments to remote methods such as electronic consultation (e-consultation). Patients from a primary care provider in London were actively encouraged to use an online consultation platform called ‘Dr iQ’. A group of high frequency users of Dr iQ emerged and clinicians were concerned their health needs were not being met through the platform. High frequency attendance in a traditional general practice setting is associated with increased time and healthcare costs.This project evaluated the number of high frequency users (identified as 10 or more consultations a month) of Dr iQ in one busy inner city practice over a 5-month period. We aimed to decrease the subsequent monthly usage frequency of all Dr iQ high frequency users from 10 or more consultations to less than 10 consultations. Our interventions included a semi-structured telephone interview, discussion among the multidisciplinary team, and regular scheduled telephone or face-to-face appointments. Following two Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, all 12 high frequency users showed a decrease in the number of consultations submitted to Dr iQ to less than 10 consultations a month.This project proposes a method of case managing high frequency users of e-consultation. The majority of high frequency users had unmet health needs and felt a lack of continuity of care on Dr iQ. They often had complex physical and mental health problems. As remote consulting technology continues to develop, more research is required to understand the epidemiology and aetiology of e-consultation high frequency use in order to improve patient outcomes.

PMID:34112657 | DOI:10.1136/bmjoq-2020-001310