Keywords: Family medicine, telemedicine, comprehensive medicine, attitudes, barriers
Based on recent studies, it was found that family physicians evaluate telemedicine visits as inferior to face-to-face visits and are therefore do not encourage patients to schedule these types of visits, even for situations for which it has been proven that such visits have a benefit and even a therapeutic advantage.
Leumit Health Services, together with the Ofek Institute for Physician Training, the Center for Simulations at Tel Hashomer and the Israel Telemedicine Community, developed a training course for family physicians, the purpose of which is to strengthen remote examination skills and encourage a proactive approach to the use of telemedicine for situations in which meetings of this type have the potential to provide Added health value.
The course instructors were trained to guide the skills of telemedicine visit based on a valid model that divides the comperhensive medical encounter into nine standard stages, which has been proven to enable a beneficial and efficient encounter.
These instructors gave an 8-hour course divided into 4 sessions, in small groups, to about 168 family doctors. 72 (43%) physicians answered a validated online self-reported questionnaires before and after the course.
After the course, a significant improvement in the feeling of being able to perform critical skills was demonstrated (anamnesis 19% (p=0.02); physical examination 57% (p=0.01); diagnosis 21% (p=0.04); treatment 17% (p=0.03)). The improvement in confidence to conduct an efficient remote medical meeting was 15% (p=0.03) and the improvement in confidently conduct a beneficial medical session remotely was 17% (p=0.02).
Strengthening the remote care skills significantly improves the sense of the family physicians' ability to perform a telemedicine visits.
Further research is needed to learn if this improvement affects the increase in uses and the increase in the quality of telemedicine.
Points for discussion:
The similarities and differences in the approach of family physicians in the various European countries towards telemedicine
The knowledge, skills and attitudes that have the most significant impact on the family physician's abilities to make beneficial use of telemedicine.
The other factors that influence the willingness of family physicians to adopt telemedicine and the ability of the course to provide them with an appropriate response.