The impact of increased outpatient telehealth during COVID-19: retrospective analysis of patient survey and routine activity data from a major healthcare system in England

Josh Tyler, Adrian Pratt, J Wooster, Christos Vasilakis, Richard Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In response to societal restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant proportion of physical outpatient consultations were replaced with virtual appointments within the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire healthcare system. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of this change in informing the potential viability of a longer-term shift to telehealth in the outpatient setting. A retrospective analysis was performed using data from the first COVID-19 wave, comprising 2998 telehealth patient surveys and 143,321 distinct outpatient contacts through both the physical and virtual medium. Four in five specialties showed no significant change in the overall number of consultations per patient during the first wave of the pandemic when telehealth services were widely implemented. Of those surveyed following virtual consultation, more respondents “preferred” virtual (36.4%) than physical appointments (26.9%) with seven times as many finding them “less stressful” than “more stressful”. In combining both patient survey and routine activity data, this study demonstrates the importance of using data from multiple sources to derive
useful insight. The results support the potential for telehealth to be rapidly employed across a range of outpatient specialties without negatively affecting patient experience.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Publication statusAcceptance date - 16 Apr 2021

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