Telemedicine Usage Among Urologists During COVID-19: A Cross-Sectional Study

J Med Internet Res. 2020 Sep 24. doi: 10.2196/21875. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Prior to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, urology was one of the specialties with the lowest rates of telemedicine and videoconferencing use. Common barriers to the implementation of telemedicine included a lack of technological literacy, concerns with reimbursement, and resistance to changes in the workplace. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic declared in March 2020, the delivery of urological services globally has quickly shifted to telemedicine to account for the mass clinical, procedural, and operative cancellations, inadequate personal protective equipment, and shortage of personnel.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate current telemedicine usage by urologists, urologist perceptions on the necessity of in-person clinic appointments, the usability of telemedicine, and the current barriers to its implementation.

METHODS: We performed a global, cross-sectional web-based survey to investigate the use of telemedicine before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Urologists’ perceived usability of telemedicine was assessed using a modified Delphi approach to create questions based on a modified version of the validated Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (TUQ). For the purposes of this study, telemedicine was defined as video calls only.

RESULTS: A total of 620 urologists from 58 different countries and 6 continents participated in the survey. Prior to COVID-19, 15.8% of urologists surveyed were using telemedicine in their clinical practices; during the pandemic, that proportion increased to 46.1%. Of the urologists without telemedicine experience, interest in usage of telemedicine increased from 43.7 to 80.8% during COVID-19. Among urologists that used telemedicine during the pandemic, 80.9% were interested in continuing to use it in their practice. The three most commonly used platforms were Zoom, Doxy.me, and Epic and the top three barriers to implementing telemedicine were patient lack of technological comprehension, patient lack of access to required technology, and reimbursement concerns.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to quantify the use, usability, and pervading interest in telemedicine amongst urologists during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of this pandemic, urologists’ usage of telemedicine nearly tripled, demonstrating their ability to adopt and adapt telemedicine into their practices, but barriers involving the technology itself are still preventing many from utilizing it despite increasing interest.

PMID:33031047 | DOI:10.2196/21875