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Investigating consumer preferences and experiences of telehealth services in Australian allied health practice: a study protocol.

BMJ Open 2024 May 17
INTRODUCTION: Telehealth service provision and uptake has rapidly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing healthcare to be delivered safely and reducing non-essential face-to-face (F2F) contact. In Australia, the expansion of subsidisation of telehealth during COVID has led to its permanent installation within Australian primary care in 2022. However, little is known about consumer preferences and experiences with these services, particularly in relation to allied health practice (AHP). Previous studies on telehealth services have focused on general practice rather than allied health (AH) and broader primary care. Given that AH professionals make up a large proportion of the Australian healthcare workforce, the purpose of this study is to explore consumer preferences and experiences with telehealth AHP healthcare.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This study uses a mixed methods research design that incorporates three independent but interrelated phases. Phase 2 of the study will use a focus group methodology to discuss consumer attitudes and experiences via a semistructured interview format. Phase 3 involves a discrete choice experiment (DCE) involving a large online survey conducted across the general population. The DCE will be informed by the qualitative findings from phases 1 and 2. The experiment aims to elicit consumer preferences in relation to AH services delivered through telehealth or F2F consultations, based on several hypothetical scenarios and preferences over several different dimensions.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethics approval has been obtained from La Trobe University (approval number HEC23404). Findings will be disseminated as reports, presentations and peer-reviewed journal articles.

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