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Original research
Patients’ use and experiences with e-consultation and other digital health services with their general practitioner in Norway: results from an online survey
  1. Paolo Zanaboni1,2,
  2. Asbjørn Johansen Fagerlund1
  1. 1Norwegian Centre for E-health Research, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  2. 2Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Troms, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paolo Zanaboni; Paolo.Zanaboni{at}


Objectives To explore patients’ use and experiences with four digital health services implemented in Norway to enable electronic communication between patients and their general practitioner (GP): (1) electronic booking of appointments; (2) electronic prescription renewal; (3) electronic contact with the GP’s office for non-clinical inquiries; and (4) e-consultation for clinical inquiries.

Design An online survey consisting of quantitative data supplemented by qualitative information was conducted to explore: (1) characteristics of the users; (2) use; (3) experiences, perceived benefits and satisfaction; and (4) time spent using the digital health services.

Setting Primary care.

Participants 2043 users of the digital health services answering the survey.

Results There was a higher proportion of women, younger adults and digitally active citizens with high education. Electronic booking of appointments was the most used service (66.4%), followed by electronic prescription renewal (54.3%). Most users (80%) could more easily and efficiently book an appointment electronically than by phone. Over 90% of the respondents thought that it was easier to renew a prescription electronically, 76% obtained a better overview of their medications and 46% reported higher compliance. For non-clinical inquiries, most respondents (60%) thought that it was easier to write electronic messages than communicate by phone. For clinical enquiries, many patients agreed that e-consultation could lead to a better followup (72%) and improved quality of treatment (58%). Users were highly satisfied with the services and recommended their use to others. Time saving was the most evident benefit for patients. This was confirmed by the differences in time spent using the digital health services compared with conventional approaches, all found to be statistically significant.

Conclusion Citizens using e-consultation and other digital health services with their GP in Norway are satisfied and consider them as useful and efficient alternatives to conventional approaches.

  • telemedicine
  • information technology
  • health informatics
  • general medicine (see internal medicine)

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  • Contributors PZ contributed to the conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and revision of the manuscript. AJF contributed to the conception and design of the study, analysis and interpretation of data and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research as part of the project 'Nytteeffektene av digitale helsetjenester'.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval from the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics was not deemed necessary according to the Act on medical and health research (the Health Research Act) entered into force in Norway in 2009.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The data set analysed during the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.