M.A.F.TANG1, H.C.CHUA2, C.L.F.SEOW1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1, Woodlands Health2
While telepractice is not new, many healthcare institutions pivoted services to telepractice during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was especially evident during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker (CB) from April to June 2020, when stricter rules were imposed to minimise face-to-face services. This study aimed to identify factors impacting telepractice adoption by clinicians before and after CB.
Surveys were collected from 25 clinicians from a speech therapy department at a restructured hospital in Singapore by convenience sampling. A Likert scale was used for clinicians to rate how often they offered telepractice to patients. Open-ended questions were asked to identify perceived barriers and facilitators to telepractice. Response themes were analysed, and targeted interventions put in place using the multi-theories model of adult learning (Taylor and Handy, 2013). Efforts focused on improving workflows, educating clinicians, and enhancing technical infrastructure. The questionnaire was then repeated to evaluate the impact of the interventions.
In terms of clinicians proactively offering telepractice, the median response before CB was “very rarely” whereas after CB there was a improvement of one point to “sometimes”. 20/25 responses before CB identified clinician-related barriers to telepractice, like clinician inexperience, unfamiliarity with processes and lack of accessible logistics. Post-intervention, patient factors became more prominent, with 19/25 responses focused on patients’ reluctance and poor suitability hindering telepractice adoption.
While COVID-19 provided a key push towards telepractice, concurrent education and service redesign were important to facilitate clinician adoption. Evaluating patient factors and implementing patient-targeted initiatives may be the key to facilitating continued uptake of telepractice in future.