Ophthalmologists and WhatsApp: Teleophthalmology is already here

Edward Barayev, Ofri Vorobichik Berar, Gad Dotan, Alon Skaat, Orly Gal-Or, Assaf Gershoni, Dan Gaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To estimate the extent of WhatsApp utilization using text and media messages for inter-physician consultations among ophthalmologists (residents and specialists) at various clinical settings and its perceived benefits for ophthalmologists and their patients. We also aimed to detect obstacles that concern ophthalmologists when using WhatsApp as a consultation platform. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using a self-administered survey through Google Forms, which was sent to 660 practicing ophthalmologists during April to May 2020. Results: One hundred and ninety-two ophthalmologists completed the questionnaire, 151 of which (78.6%) were specialists and 41 (21.4%) were residents. Most ophthalmologists reported using WhatsApp at least once a day for both personal and professional use. Residents reported lower rates of contacting patients using WhatsApp than specialists (1.51 ± 0.98 vs 2.72 ± 1.32, p < 0.001). Respondents reported WhatsApp consultations frequently replaced referrals of patients to other physicians, with a median of once a week. 97.8% of residents and 91.4% of specialists reported the ability to share media is a major advantage of WhatsApp over other medias, followed by rapid responses for consultations. Conclusion: Many ophthalmologists already use WhatsApp as a tool for professional consultations with other providers, mainly thanks to its simplicity and wide availability. Residents use it more frequently than specialists, and ranked it higher when asked how much WhatsApp has improved the clinical setting. Policy makers should address concerns brought up by physicians, such as documentation in medical records and proper compensation for consulting ophthalmologists during and after work hours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-694
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Legal aspects of medical/surgical therapy
  • neuro ophthalmology
  • practice management
  • retina
  • socioeconomics and education in medicine/ophthalmology
  • telemedicine

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