The Use of Teleconsultations by Nurses in Primary Care in Minas Gerais, Brazil: the Experience of the Telehealth Network of Minas Gerais
Primary care is the doorway into the Brazilian public health system. On that level of care, nurses have a main role. As such, they can benefit from telehealth initiatives that bring them closer to specialists of other levels of care. This study aims to evaluate the use, by nurses, of a large scale Brazilian teleconsultation service. Methods: Teleconsultations requested by nurses from April 2007 to February 2014 were analysed to identify: the time of the day they were sent; the specialties they were directed to; and the main socioeconomic features of the cities from which they originated. In addition, a sample of teleconsultations from January to February 2014 was examined for the most common types of queries. Results: A total of 30,258 teleconsultations were analysed. They were mainly directed to medical subspecialties (76.5%). Nursing categories received 20.7% of the queries. Of all teleconsultations, 66.5% were performed during the working hours of the Primary Care units (8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday). Most of the 632 cities that sent queries during this period had worse socioeconomic indices than the state’s average. Concerning teleconsultations performed from January to February 2014, most queries were about aetiology (29.0%) and pharmacological treatment (18.5%). Conclusion: This study from a large scale Brazilian teleconsultation service showed that nurses direct their requests mostly to medical subspecialties. The cities from where most teleconsultations were originated are notably more underserved. The main queries were about aetiology and pharmacological treatment.
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