BACKGROUND: Telemedicine in general, and telephone triage, in particular, is considered a high-stress clinical activity and involves decision making under conditions of uncertainty and urgency. AIM: We wanted to explore the experiences, attitudes, and challenges of the physicians in a Pediatric Telemedicine Service operated in Israel, and to explore whether the doctors are using non-medical factors (not related to the medical problem), when making the clinical decisions in this setting. METHODS: We used a qualitative methodology in order to obtain rich data that would reflect the participants’ subjective experiences. Fifteen physicians who worked during the last 5 years in the “Pediatrician Online of Clalit” service were interviewed. Data were analyzed thematically. FINDINGS: Seven main themes concerning the physicians’ challenges during their work at this service were revealed, including difficulties diagnosing from a distance, treating unfamiliar patients, working alone, urgency and load of calls, technological obstacles, and a “moral conflict” between the desire to meet parents’ expectations and maintain standards of care. The physicians stated that non-medical factors also affect their decisions. CONCLUSIONS: In telemedicine setting, physicians face various difficulties and challenges, requiring special expertise, qualities and skills. Special measures are needed to obtain proper diagnosis and decisions.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc 2018.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health