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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
Journal of Medical Internet Research >
Volume 9 (2007) >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16649

Title: Web-Based Asynchronous Teleconsulting for Consumers in Colombia: A Case Study
Authors: Valenzuela, José Ignacio
Arguello, Arturo
Cendales, Juan Gabriel
Rizo, Carlos A
Keywords: Original Paper
Case study
consultation, remote
Issue Date: 22-Oct-2007
Publisher: Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada
Citation: José Ignacio Valenzuela, Arturo Arguello, Juan Gabriel Cendales, Carlos A Rizo. Web-Based Asynchronous Teleconsulting for Consumers in Colombia: A Case Study. J Med Internet Res 2007;9(4):e33 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2007/4/e33/>
Abstract: [This item is a preserved copy and is not necessarily the most recent version. To view the current item, visit http://www.jmir.org/2007/4/e33/ ] Background: Fourteen years after the reform to Colombia’s health system, the promises of universality, improved equity, efficiency, and better quality of care have not materialized. Remote areas remain underserved and access to care very limited. Recognizing teleconsultation as an effective way to improve access to health care and health information, a noncommercial open-access Web-based application for teleconsultation called Doctor Chat was developed. Objective: The objective was to report the experience of the Center for Virtual Education and Simulation eHealth (Centro de Educación Virtual y Simulación e-Salud) with open-access Web-based asynchronous teleconsultation for consumers in Colombia. Methods: A teleconsultation service in Spanish was developed and implemented in 2006. Teleconsultation requests were classified on three axes: (1) the purpose of the query, (2) the specialty, and (3) the geographic area of the query. Content analysis was performed on the free-text queries submitted to Doctor Chat, and descriptive statistics were gathered for each of the data categories (name, email, city, country, age, and gender). Results: From September 2006 to March 2007, there were 270 asynchronous teleconsultations documented from 102 (37.8%) men and 168 (62.2%) women. On average, 1.4 requests were received per day. By age group, the largest number of requests (n = 80; 30%) were from users 24-29 years, followed by users (n = 66; 24%) 18-23 years. Requests were mainly from Colombia (n = 204; 75.6%) but also from Spain (n = 17; 6.3%), Mexico (n = 11; 4.1%), and other countries. In Colombia, 137 requests (67.2%) originated in Bogotá, the nation’s capital, 25 (12.4%) from other main cities of the country, 40 (19.7%) from intermediate cities, and 2 (0.7%) from remote areas. The purpose of the majority of requests was for information about symptoms, health-related problems, or diseases (n = 149; 55.2%) and medications/treatments (n = 70; 25.9%). By specialty, information was most requested for gynecology and obstetrics (n = 71; 26%), dermatology (n = 28; 10%), urology (n = 22; 8%), and gastroenterology (n = 18; 7%), with anesthesiology, critical care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and pathology being the least requested (n = 0; 0%). Overall, sexual and reproductive health (n = 93; 34%) issues constituted the main query subject. The average time to deliver a response was 120 hours in 2006 and 59 hours in 2007. Only 19 out of 270 users (7%) completed a survey with comments and perceptions about the system, of which 18 out of 19 (95%) corresponded to positive perceptions and 1 out of 19 (5%) expressed dissatisfaction with the service. Conclusion: The implementation of a Web-based teleconsulting service in Colombia appeared to be an innovative way to improve access to health care and information in the community and encouraged open and explicit discussion. Extending the service to underserved areas could improve access to health services and health information and could potentially improve economic indicators such as waiting times for consultations and the rate of pregnancy among teenagers; however, cultural, infrastructural, and Internet connectivity barriers are to be solved before successful implementation can derive population-wide positive impacts.
Description: Reviewer: Edirippulige, Sisira
URI: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.2196/jmir.9.4.e33
ISSN: 1438-8871
Rights: © José Ignacio Valenzuela, Arturo Arguello, Juan Gabriel Cendales, Carlos A Rizo. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org, 22.10.2007). Except where otherwise noted, articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, including full bibliographic details and the URL (see "please cite as" above), and this statement is included.
Appears in Collections:Volume 9 (2007)

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