M.A.F.TANG1, H.C.CHUA2, C.L.F.SEOW1, L.M.LIM1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1, Woodlands Health2
While telepractice is not new, restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its adoption as the preferred alternative to physical consultations. This was especially evident during the Circuit Breaker in Singapore, where stricter rules were imposed. This study aims to identify factors impacting patients’ adoption of telepractice and likelihood of continued use.
A mixed methods design was implemented. The questionnaire was adapted from the Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (Parmanto et al., 2016). Anonymous responses were obtained from 70 patients and caregivers who received speech therapy services via telepractice before and/or during the Circuit Breaker period. Sociodemographic variables and service-related factors were analysed in relation to patients’ satisfaction, likelihood of using the service again, and likelihood of recommending it to others. Qualitative analysis was done to identify response themes.
Sociodemographic variables of age, gender, education level and language did not impact patient satisfaction or likelihood of telepractice use. Service-related factors were more influential, such as saving travelling time (24%), ease of use (19%) and improved access to services (18%). 20% of respondents highlighted COVID-19 as a significant push factor. However, some missed the ‘personal touch’ (11%), and were impacted by technological disruptions like unstable internet, poorvideo quality or poor visibility of therapy materials.
Sociodemographic variables did not significantly impact telepractice use, possibly due to high smartphone penetration rates in Singapore. Service-related factors such as convenience, access, safety and ease of use were more prominent facilitators to telepractice use. Improving technological infrastructure would increase the likelihood of patients continuing with telepractice beyond COVID-19.