AIMS: We undertook a mixed-methods evaluation of a Web-based conferencing service (virtual consult) between general practitioners (GPs) and cardiologists in managing patients with heart failure in the community to determine its effect on use of specialist heart failure services and acceptability to GPs.
METHODS AND RESULTS: All cases from June 2015 to October 2016 were recorded using a standardized recording template, which recorded patient demographics, medical history, medications, and outcome of the virtual consult for each case. Quantitative surveys and qualitative interviewing of 17 participating GPs were also undertaken. During this time, 142 cases were discussed-68 relating to a new diagnosis of heart failure, 53 relating to emerging deterioration in a known heart failure patient, and 21 relating to therapeutic issues. Only 17% required review in outpatient department following the virtual consultation. GPs reported increased confidence in heart failure management, a broadening of their knowledge base, and a perception of overall better patient outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: These data from an initial experience with Heart Failure Virtual Consultation present a very positive impact of this strategy on the provision of heart failure care in the community and acceptability to users. Further research on the implementation and expansion of this strategy is warranted.
- Journal Article