Evaluation of the use and effectiveness of telemedicine among the health professionals during the Covid-19 lockdown period: A cross sectional study
Background: Telemedicine has been documented as a viable option in attending to patient’s need where distance is a critical factor. The Federal Government of Nigeria on March 27, 2020, imposed a total lockdown in Lagos state in orderto curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) pandemic. The restriction in movement prevented many patients from attending their regular clinics and physical consultations. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use and effectiveness of telemedicine among the hospital health professionals during the lockdown period. Methods: This was an online cross‑sectional study among doctors at a tertiary health facility in Lagos. Ethical approval was obtained from the institutional ethical committee. A list of the telephone and WhatsApp contacts of doctors were obtained from the hospital directory; the SurveyMonkey tool was used as an online web‑based structured questionnaire for data collection. The information obtained was analyzed to find means and averages. Results: A total of 104 doctors completed the survey. The proportion of participants who used telemedicine was 93.3%, with the most commonly used telemedicine option being phone call (27.1%) and WhatsApp video call (27.1%). The main management provided during this period was counseling (56.6%). Seventy‑nine percent of the participants were satisfied with the result of the management provided through telemedicine options, but the major concern was that of ethical issues (36.2%). Majority (44.2%) of the respondents agree that telemedicine was effective during the COVID‑19 lockdown period. Therewas no association found between gender, age, designation, and perceived effectiveness of telemedicine by respondents in this study (P = 0.88, 0.4, and 0.07, respectively). Conclusion: Telemedicine was found to be a useful tool for effective patient’s management during the lockdown period although there exist ethical concerns. The formulation of policies guiding its use will ensure the security of information and patient’s confidentiality.