Physician User Perspectives in the Practice of Telemedicine in the Philippines
AbstractTelemedicine can bridge gaps in healthcare by providing expert opinion to healthcare providers in remote areas, but has remained underutilised locally. Objectives: To determine how the National Telehealth Center, Manila, Philippines, can manage user physician expectations of telemedicine in order to maximise its benefits, by determining which factors influence physicians to adopt and use telemedicine. Methods: A questionnaire was adapted from the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology model of technology acceptance and sent to rural physicians. Focus group discussions were also held among key informants to determine their perceptions and attitudes towards telemedicine. Results: Social influence was the most important factor that influenced intention to use telemedicine, and with other factors studied (performance expectancy, effort expectancy, attitude, and facilitating conditions) explained 54.8% of the variance in the decision to use telemedicine. Major findings that emerged from the group discussions were the inadequacy of the present telecommunication infrastructure, the need to have specialists always available to answer referrals, while retaining e-mail and SMS for elective referrals. Conclusion: Practical steps such as transmission of constant reminders, improvement of the existing support system, and recruitment of thought leaders can increase the use and adoption of telemedicine among its target user physicians.
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