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In BMJ health & care informatics

INTRODUCTION : There is consistent evidence that the workload in general practices is substantially increasing. The digitalisation of healthcare including the use of artificial intelligence has been suggested as a solution to this problem. We wanted to explore the features of intelligent online triage tools in primary care by conducting a literature review.

METHOD : A systematic literature search strategy was formulated and conducted in the PubMed database and the Cochrane Library. Articles were selected according to inclusion/exclusion criteria. Results and data were systematically extracted and thematically analysed. 17 articles of that reported large multimethod studies or smaller diagnostic accuracy tests on clinical vignettes were included. Reviews and expert opinions were also considered.

RESULTS : There was limited evidence on the actual effects and performance of triage tools in primary care. Several aspects can guide further development: concepts of system design, system implementation and diagnostic performance. The most important findings were: a need to formulate evaluation guidelines and regulations; their assumed potential has not yet been met; a risk of increased or redistribution of workloads and the available symptom checker systems seem overly risk averse and should be tested in real-life settings.

CONCLUSION : This review identified several features associated with the design and implementation of intelligent online triage tools in a primary care context, although most of the investigated systems seemed underdeveloped and offered limited benefits. Current online triage systems should not be used by individuals who have reasonable access to traditional healthcare. Systems used should be strictly evaluated and regulated like other medical products.

Gottliebsen Kristian, Petersson Göran


healthcare, information systems, medical informatics, primary health care