How do consumers prefer their care delivered: In-person, telephone or videoconference?

Centaine L. Snoswell*, Helen M. Haydon, Jaimon T. Kelly, Emma E. Thomas, Liam J. Caffery, Anthony C. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)



To gain a better understanding of consumer experiences with and preferences for telephone and videoconference consultations (telehealth), and how these compare to traditional in-person consultations. 


A national cross-sectional survey was administered to a representative sample of Australian adults who have received a telehealth service within the last year. Consumers were recruited by Qualtrics® through their online sampling service. The sample was representative of the broader Australian population according to gender, age, location (state/territory), and place of residence (urban or remote). Information on demographics (e.g., age, gender, employment status), recent telehealth experience, and preferences for consultation modality was collected. To measure preferences consumers were asked to indicate which modality they would prefer (in-person, telephone, or videoconference) for different scenarios. These included consultations of various time lengths, and for the top ten conditions for which individuals sought a general practitioner. 


 A total of 1069 consumers completed the survey. When consumers were asked to describe their most recent telehealth appointment, most were for follow-up appointments (67%) and completed by telephone (77%) rather than by videoconference, and with a general practitioner (75%). In-person consultations at a clinic were the top preference in all clinical scenarios presented, except when needing a prescription or to receive test results. In these cases, a telephone consultation was the preferred modality. Inexperience with videoconference and duration of consultation influenced preference for consultation mode. Consumers preferred to have short consultations of around five minutes done by telehealth (telephone or videoconference), while they preferred in-person for longer consultations (up to 60 minutes). 


Many Australians have used telehealth in the past year to access healthcare, with telephone being the most common form of communication. Given the option and the experience to date, consumers prefer telephone when consultations related to either prescriptions or test results. Experience with videoconference for consultations increased consumer preferences for using it for future consultations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
Early online date17 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


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