Anaesthesiologie. 2023 Mar 17. doi: 10.1007/s00101-023-01269-1. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV‑2 pandemic posed unexpected challenges for hospitals worldwide and in addition to the supply emergency, simultaneously caused a high pressure to innovate. Due to the high number of cases of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care, structured networking of hospitals gained particular importance. The tele-ICU communication platform TeleCOVID was developed to improve the quality of intensive care both by enabling teleconsultations and by supporting patient transfers.
OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed to survey user experiences with TeleCOVID. The study investigated the extent to which the app is used, the user experiences of the participating hospitals, and the resulting implications for the further development of the telemedicine application.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A user survey was conducted in May 2022 using an online questionnaire. The survey contained both closed and open questions with a free text field. It was sent via the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration (HMSI). All 135 hospitals in Hesse were contacted by e‑mail and invited to participate in the study. The results of the closed questions were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and the results of the open questions were clustered and thematically summarized using qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: The study showed that TeleCOVID was used primarily for transfer requests, followed by the need for a treatment consultation without a transfer request. Most often, ECMO treatment or treatment in a hospital of a higher care level was required. The content analysis showed that users particularly rated the possibility of a data protection-compliant and structured transfer of patient data as advantageous. It is also worth mentioning that in almost 25% of the cases a transfer of patients could be prevented by TeleCOVID. Disadvantages frequently mentioned by respondents were the lack of connection to the electronic hospital information system, the increased time required for the registration process, and the poor primary accessibility of contact persons.
CONCLUSION: In a further development of the application the connection to the electronic hospital information system should be considered particularly urgent. In addition, the time expenditure should be reduced by a simplified login process. Due to interface barriers, an alternative data infrastructure would also be conceivable to create interoperability. The introduction of a web client could also increase usability. The main beneficiaries of hospital networking are physicians and patients in a context associated with a high workload and specific medical issues. Continuation and expansion of the app to intensive care medicine and beyond are therefore recommended. In further studies on the project, personal interviews with decision makers could be useful to conduct a more targeted needs analysis.
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