HumanInsight Experience of Telemedicine in Gastroenterology Out-Patient Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Experiences from a Tertiary-Care Hospital in a Developing Country
Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2022 Jun 17;15:91-99. doi: 10.2147/CEG.S361381. eCollection 2022.
OBJECTIVE: Telemedicine is being widely implemented in the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid infection risk. However, its effectiveness has not been evaluated, especially in developing countries, where it is invaluable for healthcare access. This study assesses physicians' and patients' perspectives of the usefulness and challenges of telemedicine in the gastroenterology department to identify its pitfalls.
METHODS: A cross-sectional telephonic survey was conducted on patients presenting to the gastroenterology department at a tertiary care hospital in Pakistan. An online survey was sent to physicians in the department.
RESULTS: A total of 160 patients participated, with a mean age 49.8 years, and 42.8% (n=68) males. There were 23.8% (n=38) initial visits and 76.3% (n=122) follow-ups. More than 85% of patients agreed telemedicine saved cost and time, 46.5% (n=74) said it improved healthcare access, and 76.3% (n=122) wanted to use it again. More than 80% were satisfied with the physician-patient interaction. Of the 7 physicians who participated, most felt telemedicine was inadequately facilitated, but felt comfortable with technology. Most felt it did not negatively affect healthcare, but thought it was complex for patients and that lack of physical interaction is a limitation. Nearly half were in favor of continuing its use after the pandemic.
CONCLUSION: Telemedicine is an effective alternative to in-person visits. Patients find it convenient, with adequate interaction. Physicians have reservations that need addressal, such as poor administration. Most patients and half of physicians are welcome to using telemedicine in the post-COVID era.
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