Background: Following a pandemic-driven shift to remote service provision, UK general practices offer telephone, video or online consultation options alongside face-to-face. This study explores practices’ varied experiences over time as they seek to establish remote forms of accessing and delivering care. Methods: This protocol is for a mixed-methods multi-site case study with co-design and national stakeholder engagement. 11 general practices were selected for diversity in geographical location, size, demographics, ethos, and digital maturity. Each practice has a researcher-in-residence whose role is to become familiar with its context and activity, follow it longitudinally for two years using interviews, public-domain documents and ethnography, and support improvement efforts. Research team members meet regularly to compare and contrast across cases. Practice staff are invited to join online learning events. Patient representatives work locally within their practice patient involvement groups as well as joining an online patient learning set or linking via a non-digital buddy system. NHS Research Ethics Approval has been granted. Governance includes a diverse independent advisory group with lay chair. We also have policy in-reach (national stakeholders sit on our advisory group) and outreach (research team members sit on national policy working groups). Results (anticipated): We expect to produce rich narratives of contingent change over time, addressing cross-cutting themes including access, triage and capacity; digital and wider inequities; quality and safety of care (e.g. continuity, long-term condition management, timely diagnosis, complex needs); workforce and staff wellbeing (including non-clinical staff, students and trainees); technologies and digital infrastructure; patient perspectives; and sustainability (e.g. carbon footprint). Conclusion: By using case study methods focusing on depth and detail, we hope to explain why digital solutions that work well in one practice do not work at all in another. We plan to inform policy and service development through inter-sectoral network-building, stakeholder workshops and topic-focused policy briefings.



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NIHR Open Research



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Peninsula Medical School