Distance Delivery of Geriatric Consultation to Family Physicians in Rural Alberta: Preliminary Results

L. Liu, J. Triscott, B. Dobbs, L. Strain, S. Burwash, S. Cleary, T. Hopper, and S. Warren (Canada)


geriatrics, consultations, primary care, rural


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of videoconferencing to provide geriatric consultations to family physicians in rural Alberta. Three physicians from two rural sites participated by each referring two patients who had dementia and were living in long-term care, to a consulting physician. During each of the consultation sessions, the referring physician and patient remained at the rural site and the consulting physician was located at an urban site. Data collection included baseline information on the physical environment and technologies at each of the three sites, pre-consultation interviews of rural physicians, post-consultation interviews of referring and consulting physicians, and exit interviews at the end of the study. Preliminary results suggest that rural physicians perceive a need for better access to specialist consultations and learning opportunities. Although the participants recognized the possibility of more timely access to diagnoses confirmation and intervention for their elderly patients, challenges remained. These included inadequate human resources to organize consultation sessions to occur via videoconferencing and their own time constraints.

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