An international experience of electronic communication and implementation of eHealth solutions in a vascular surgery clinic
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INTRODUCTION: Communication is key to any successful relationship with the patient-physician partnership being no different. Recent advances in technology have provided us with an array of new communication tools such as the mobile phone, computer, internet, and email. This new technology has revolutionized communications; however, limitations to their widespread use include access, literacy, and willingness for both the physician and patient to change. METHODS: To gather international data, questionnaires were completed by patients attending vascular surgery outpatient clinics in hospitals in Ireland and Canada. RESULTS: Five hundred ninety-seven patients participated in the study. Of the participants, 83.2% were over 50 years old. The mean age was 63.1 years, with a range of 18-95 years. Overall, home phone call was the most preferred method of communication with 41.0% of patients selecting this option. Of the patients, 82.4% had a mobile phone but just 48.5% use text message. In those over the age of 70, 72.1% use a mobile phone and just 25.3% use text message. Of the participants, 64.1% had access to a computer, and 67.2% had access to the internet with a decline in the usage of both with increasing age. DISCUSSION: Within this patient population, the use of technologies decreases with increasing age of the patients. This demonstrates a large population of service users who are contented with conventional methods of communication. Change within healthcare ICT is inevitable, and therefore, these patients need to be guided and educated to allow a smooth transition from the old to the new.
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