Teleconsultations in Primary Care before and after COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped to generalize the use of telemedicine as a tool to maintain contact between citizens and the health care system. This study aims to analyze the profile of the citizens who use the eConsulta tool and the reasons for their use

Keywords: teleconsultation; primary care; remote consultation; telehealth; COVID-19; e-consultation


During the pandemic, the number of unique users of this teleconsultation service had almost tripled, with up to 33.10 visits per 1000 inhabitants per month reported in the first three months. For the two user profiles analyzed, most users since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak were predominantly female, systematically younger, more actively employed, and with less complex pathologies.

Furthermore, eConsulta users received more messages proactively from the health professionals. There was also a relative decrease in the number of conversations initiated by higher-income urban users and an increase in conversations initiated by users in rural areas.

Description of Study:

  • Title: Characteristics of Citizens and Their Use of Teleconsultations in Primary Care in the Catalan Public Health System Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Retrospective Descriptive Cross-sectional Study.
  • Principal Investigadors: Oscar Solans, Josep Vidal-Alaball, Pasqual Roig, Núria Mora, Ermengol Coma, Josep Maria Bonet Simó, Eduardo Hermosilla Pérez, Francesc Saigí-Rubió, Carmen Olmos Domínguez, Jordi Piera-Jiménez, Mercè Abizanda González and Francesc López Seguí.
  • Centres of Implementation: Catalan Health Institute (ICS).
  • Study Population: Data sourced from the Catalan Health Institute (ICS).
  • Study Type: Retrospective Descriptive Cross-sectional Study.
  • Methods: A descriptive, observational study based on administrative data was performed. This study differentiates between the COVID-19 pandemic era and the period preceding it, considering the day the state of emergency was declared in Spain (ie, March 12, 2020) as the cut-off point. It also differentiates between eConsulta users who send messages and those who only receive them.

Objectives of the Study:

Principal Objective: to analyze the profile of the citizens who use the eConsulta tool and the reasons for their use, as well as to gain an understanding of the elements that characterize their decision to use it while distinguishing between those who used it before and those who have used it since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More about this Study:

eConsulta—that is, asynchronous, two-way teleconsultation in primary care—is one of the most important telemedicine developments in the Catalan public health system, a service that has been heavily boosted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital to know the characteristics of its users in order to be able to meet their needs and understand the coverage of this service in a context where there is reduced accessibility to the health system.


Other Studies about Primary Care:

COVID-19 immunity in healthcare professionals

Determining whether there is protection against reinfection is important for controlling healthcare workers implications during the pandemic due to their continous professional contact with COVID-19 patients

Clinical Characterization of Patients With COVID-19 in Primary Care

This retrospective observational study aims to clinically characterise patients with COVID-19 in Primary Care in Catalonia.

The Effect of COVID on Visits to Primary Care Centers

This study aims to know how the pandemic has affected the health of citizens and has modified the health care activity in primary care centers.

Antihistamines and azithromycin as a treatment for COVID-19

This study suggests that primary care diagnosis and treatment with antihistamines, plus azithromycin in selected cases, may treat COVID-19 and prevent progression to severe disease in elderly patients.

Prognostic factors in COVID-19 patients

Determining the clinical, biological and radiological characteristics of patients with suspected COVID-19 infection is the key to treatment and isolation of contacts between individuals.

Digital Health Solutions to Stand Out

A study about the digital health solutions implemented by Sanitas hospitals to maintain continuity of care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seroprevalence Study of the EAP Sardenya

Which is the community immunity against SARS-CoV-2? In this study of EAP Sardenya, it will be monitored the seroprevalence of antibodies aginst COVID-19 in probable and possible cases.

The Prognosis of COVID-19 Positive Patients at the Primary Health Care

A study to discover the determining factors in the prognosis of COVID-19 at primary health care to fight the pandemic.