Virtual primary care implementation during COVID-19 in high-income countries: A scoping review

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: The purpose of this scoping review was to map the challenges, strategies, and lessons learned from high-income countries that can be mobilized to inform decision-makers on how to best implement virtual primary care services during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings of our scoping review identified the barriers and strategies within the Quadruple Aim components, which may prove to be an effective implementation strategy for virtual care adoption in primary care settings.
Materials and Methods: The two concepts of virtual care and COVID-19 were searched in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL on August 10, 2020, and Scopus was searched on August 15, 2020. The database searches returned 10,549 citations and an additional 766 citations were retrieved from searching the citations from the reference lists of articles that met all inclusion criteria. A total of 1,260 full-text articles were reviewed of which 38 articles met the eligibility criteria for inclusion in the review.
Results: Seven key barriers and strategies were identified for the implementation of virtual primary care. Of the 38 articles included, the key barriers identified were equitable access to care (n = 20; 53%), lack of funding for virtual care (n = 14; 37%), negative patient and clinician perception (n = 11, 29%), lack of regulatory policies (n = 10, 26%), inadequate clinical workflows (n = 9, 21), lack of virtual care infrastructure (n = 8, 21%), and insufficient virtual care training and education (n = 5, 13%). Strategies included the following: increased funding (n = 15, 39%), improving clinical workflows (n = 13, 34%), appropriate education and training (n = 11, 29%), improving virtual care infrastructure and patient equity (n = 7, 18%), establishing regulatory policies (n = 5, 13%), and improving patient and clinician perceptions (n = 3, 7%).
Conclusions: As many countries enter potential subsequent waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, applying early lessons learned to mitigate implementation barriers can help with the transition to equitable and appropriate virtual primary care services.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Telemedicine and e-Health