PloS one 2018 03 1513(3) e0194278 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0194278
Image-based teleconsultation between medical experts and healthcare staff at remote emergency centres can improve the diagnosis of conditions which are challenging to assess. One such condition is burns. Knowledge is scarce regarding how medical experts perceive the influence of such teleconsultation on their roles and relations to colleagues at point of care.
In this qualitative study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 medical experts to explore their expectations of a newly developed App for burns diagnostics and care prior to its implementation. Purposive sampling included male and female physicians at different stages of their career, employed at different referral hospitals and all potential future tele-experts in remote teleconsultation using the App. Positioning theory was used to analyse the data.
The experts are already facing changes in their diagnostic practices due to the informal use of open access applications like WhatsApp. Additional changes are expected when the new App is launched. Four positions of medical experts were identified in situations of diagnostic advice, two related to patient flow-clinical specialist and gatekeeper-and two to point of care staff-educator and mentor. The experts move flexibly between the positions during diagnostic practices with remote colleagues. A new position in relation to previous research on medical roles-the mentor-came to light in this setting. The App is expected to have an important educational impact, streamline the diagnostic process, improve both triage and referrals and be a more secure option for remote diagnosis compared to current practices. Verbal communication is however expected to remain important for certain situations, in particular those related to the mentor position.
The quality and security of referrals are expected to be improved through the App but the medical experts see less potential for conveying moral support via the App during remote consultations. Experts’ reflections on remote consultations highlight the embedded social and cultural dimensions of implementing new technology.