Copyright ©The Author(s) 2020.
World J Clin Oncol. Dec 24, 2020; 11(12): 968-975
Published online Dec 24, 2020. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v11.i12.968
Table 1 Barriers to implementing remote consultations
Technological barriers
Availability of smart phones or mobile devices
Mobile network coverage
Lack of a dedicated, properly-equipped office in the hospital to conveniently and rapidly program and conduct a remote visit that is comparable to a real-life consultation. This equipment would include videoconferencing software to allow for a proper anamnesis, with hands-free headphones to allow the physician to record data on the eMR, and automatic telephone dialling
Electronic medical record formats and the capability to order complementary tests through the software
Physical barriers
Telephone consultation and difficult anamnesis in some cases, such as patients with a laryngectomy, cognitive impairment, hearing loss, neurological diseases, or poor language skills (i.e., foreigners), etc;
Impossibility of performing a correct physical examination of patients
Communication barriers
Use of technical jargon
Semantic barriers: Inability to understand the language used by the sender or the receiver
Lack of body language signals (telephone consultations)
Potential lack of empathy in telephone consultations
External interruptions
Mental (“not thinking clearly”) and emotional blocks
Fear of asking questions
Lack of family support during the teleconsultation
Potential misinterpretation of the message
Feelings of inferiority
Misinformed or “overinformed” (infodemia)
External interruptions
Difficulties in understanding how to behave in this unique setting: Respect, cordiality and a collaborative attitude
Psychological barriers
Feelings of insecurity due to work processes outside of routine practices;
Perceived deterioration in the doctor-patient relationship, in which it is necessary to cede more power and autonomy to the patient with more open dialogue (and a less paternalistic relationship)
The need to use an appropriate tone of voice, ask clear and concise questions, use warm and friendly language, and practice active listening when communicating with patients
Potential to perceive a certain loss of humanity due to the lack of physical presence
If the patient cannot see the physician (e.g., telephone call), this can produce feelings of depersonalization
The patient may be accustomed to letting the physician make health-related decisions
The patient may have difficulties describing symptoms in a virtual setting
Bioethical barriers
Confidentiality and privacy
Data protection
The remote consultation cannot replace a face-to-face visit, but rather complements it
Risks related to computer security and hacking