H.L.KOH1, P.S.S.LEE1, E.A.L.CHEW1, S.Y.TAN1, S.K.ONG1, Y.Y.DING2, E.S.LEE1
National Healthcare Group Polyclinics1, Tan Tock Seng Hospital2
Remote teleconsultations are not new to the international healthcare arena but COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the necessity of this service in Singapore. This study aimed to explore views from organisational implementers on the facilitators and barriers of implementing video consultations (VC) in National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP).
A descriptive qualitative research was conducted between July and November 2020. Organisational implementers from six NHGP clinics were purposively selected. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted and audio-recorded. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded independently and analysed using inductive thematic analysis with consensus among the different coders.
Data saturation was reached with 12 interviews. Most implementers agreed that recruiting the appropriate patients (patients who were technologically savvy to use a teleconference platform or patients who had caregivers that could help them to set up the session), was an important facilitator in implementing VC. They also agreed that replacing patient’s physical appointments with VC was crucial to prevent patient’s possible exposure to the virus during the pandemic. However, there were many barriers to VC. Many patients still preferred traditional in-person consultation and certain medical conditions were not suitable for VC resulting in a low uptake rate. Moreover, the emergent need to implement VC had prompted rapid reorganisation of manpower, new resource acquisition and utilisation to support the service.
Understanding the facilitators and barriers provided insights to improve the current VC workflow so that the service can be scaled up and sustained across all the primary healthcare institutions in Singapore beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic.