J Korean Med Assoc.  2021 Dec;64(12):852-863. 10.5124/jkma.2021.64.12.852.

Physicians’ perception toward using telephone consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Research Institute for Healthcare Policy, Korean Medical Association, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

Background
As the world faced a pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in 2019, telemedicine quickly spread and was widely adopted. This was the first instance where telephone consultations were temporarily allowed in Korea. We used data from the 2020 Korean Physician Survey and analyzed the physicians’ perceptions of telephone consultations, the reasons for providing these consultations, and the level of physician satisfaction after providing it.
Current Concepts
A total of 6,342 respondents were selected for the final analysis of the research results. Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, the data showed that most physicians had a negative perception (77.1%) toward the introduction of the telemedicine system. A third (31.1%) of physicians surveyed had provided medical treatment via telephone consultation. According to the position the physicians held, professors, fellows, self-employed physicians, and public health physicians had the most experience in this method of consultation. The use of telephone consultation was highest in the field of internal medicine (44.5%) treatment. Data also showed that most physicians (83.5%) who provided such consultations experienced difficulties in making a medical judgment that could ensure their patients’ safety.
Discussion and Conclusion
The results of this study verified that physicians’ opinions about the telemedicine system differed according to service, area of specialization, region, and type of medical institution. A closer review and establishment of policy alternatives are required to explore the possible expansion of teleconsultations and related medical treatments in the future.

Keyword

COVID-19; Telemedicine; Remote consultation; Physicians; Republic of Korea; 코로나19; 원격의료; 원격상담; 의사; 한국
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