Receptionists' role in new approaches to consultations in primary care: a focused ethnographic study

Heather Dawn Brant*, Helen Atherton, Annemieke Bikker, Tania Porqueddu, Chris Salisbury, Brian McKinstry, John Campbell, Andy Gibson, Sue Ziebland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: The receptionist is pivotal to the smooth running of general practice in the UK, communicating with patients and booking appointments. Aim: The authors aimed to explore the role of the receptionist in the implementation of new approaches to consultations in primary care. Design and setting: The authors conducted a team-based focused ethnography. Three researchers observed eight general practices across England and Scotland between June 2015 and May 2016. Method: Interviews were conducted with 39 patients and 45 staff in the practices, all of which had adopted one or more methods (telephone, email, e-consultation, or internet video) for providing an alternative to face-to-face consultation. Results: Receptionists have a key role in facilitating patient awareness regarding new approaches to consultations in primary care, while at the same time ensuring that patients receive a consultation appropriate to their needs. In this study, receptionists' involvement in implementation and planning for the introduction of alternative approaches to face-to-face consultations was minimal, despite the expectation that they would be involved in delivery. Conclusion: A shared understanding within practices of the potential difficulties and extra work that might ensue for reception staff was lacking. This might contribute to the low uptake by patients of potentially important innovations in service delivery. Involvement of the wider practice team in planning and piloting changes, supporting team members through service reconfiguration, and providing an opportunity to discuss and contribute to modifications of any new system would ensure that reception staff are suitably prepared to support the introduction of a new approach to consultations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e478-e486
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Volume68
Issue number672
Early online date28 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Family practice
  • Focused ethnography
  • General practice
  • Medical receptionists
  • Primary care
  • Qualitative research
  • Remote consultation

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