Major challenge for health care service became a situation of a pandemic caused by COVID-19 infection, when doctors continued to provide care switching to remote consultations when possible. This provided better accessibility to receive consultation form doctor, and those consultations where sometimes the only way to be consulted for the patient.
Aims of the study: To explore and analyze Latvia’s doctors experience on providing remote consultations during COVID-19 pandemics.
1) To detect the volume and type of work physicians are able to manage remotely. 2) To find out what technical, GDPR-associated and other difficulties face doctors during the process. 3) To define the general attractiveness of remote consulting.
Design and method:
Two groups of doctors filled in the questionnaires in year 2021.
In one group, which consisted of 200 general practitioners, most respondents consider they could provide remote medical consultation about healthy lifestyle - 89,0% (n = 178); regarding check-ups, screening results - 86,5% (n = 173); to manage recommendations of other healthcare specialists - 66% (n = 132). Difficulties faced: 54,0% (n = 108) were not satisfied with payment, 22,5% (n = 45) admitted lack of specific skills, 45,5% (n = 91) found it problematic to make e-referrals. 61,0% (n = 122) like the idea of implementing services in practice on a regular basis. Another group, which consisted of 62 doctors of different specialties working in Clinical University Hospital. All doctors (62) were consulting by phone, 18 doctors only by phone, however 44 were consulting via e-mails, social network on video-conference platforms as well.
Research revealed that the process of patient identification, search of patient’s data and sensitive data transfer is complicated, time consuming and requires different approaches to manage.
Latvian doctors have experience in remote consulting. When consulting remotely Latvian doctors were facing technical, legal, social and other difficulties. Some Latvian doctors are interested in introducing remote consulting services in their practice, if the restrictive moments for their provision would be eliminated. As well as there is need for amendments in normative regulation for providing remote consultations, and challenges relates to payment system implementations especially for state paid services.