Determinants of Catalan public primary care professionals' intention to use digital clinical consultations (eConsulta) in the post-COVID-19 context: optical illusion or permanent transformation?

J Med Internet Res. 2021 May 31. doi: 10.2196/28944. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: During lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has become a necessary component of clinical practice for the purpose of providing safer patient care, and it has been used to support the healthcare needs of COVID-19 patients and routine primary care patients alike. However, this change has not been fully consolidated.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to analyse the determinants of healthcare professionals’ intention to use the eConsulta digital clinical consultations tool in the post-COVID-19 context.

METHODS: A literature review of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) allowed us to construct a theoretical model and establish a set of hypotheses derived from it about the influence that a variety of different factors relating to both healthcare professionals and the institutions where they work had on those professionals’ intention to use eConsulta. In order to confirm the proposed model, a mixed qualitative and quantitative methodology was used, and a questionnaire was designed to serve as the data collection instrument. The data were analysed using univariate and bivariate analysis techniques. To confirm the theoretical model, exploratory factor analysis and binary logistic regression were applied.

RESULTS: The most important variables were those referring to perceived benefits (B=2.408) and the type of use that individuals habitually made of eConsulta (B=0.715). Environmental pressure (B=0.678), experience of technology (B=0.542), gender (B=0.639) and the degree of eConsulta implementation (B=0.266) were other variables influencing the intention to use the tool in the post-COVID-19 context. When replicating the previous analysis by professional group, experience of technology and gender in the physician group, and experience of the tool’s use and the centre where a professional works in the nurse group, were found to be of considerable importance.

CONCLUSIONS: The implementation and use of eConsulta had increased significantly as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the majority of the healthcare professionals were satisfied with its use in practice and planned to incorporate it into their practices in the post-COVID-19 context. Perceived benefits and environmental pressure were determining factors in the attitude towards and intention to use eConsulta.

PMID:34097638 | DOI:10.2196/28944