Purpose: We hypothesized that advanced information and communication technology (ICT) would be acceptable to parents in a pediatric surgical, and diagnostic imaging day care setting.
Methods: After Ethics Committee approval, we distributed surveys, over a one-month period, to parents of children arriving for day care surgery or diagnostic imaging. Parents indicated their acceptance of various proposed modes of postoperative discussion of healthcare i.e.; face-to-face, videophone, or telephone. Parents were also asked to describe their receptiveness to scheduling non-emergency hospital appointments online and to receiving electronic media describing their child's surgery and postoperative management. Parental education, income, and familiarity with the Internet were also assessed.
Results: A total of 451 surveys (84% response rate) were returned. Most parents (95%) had access to the Internet and 70% did their banking online. Forty-two percent of the parents had at least a university education and 63% had an annual family income > $50,000 Canadian. The majority of parents (98%) accepted face-to-face interaction, while only 35% and 37% of parents were receptive to videophone and telephone interviews, respectively. Computer availability (P = 0.001) and online banking (P = 0.011) were the only variables that predicted those parents who were in favour of using videophone technology. Parents were receptive to instruction electronic media (80%) and booking appointments online (61%).
Conclusions: A well-educated and technologically sophisticated parent population does not favour advanced communication technologies over simple, face-to-face interaction in an in-hospital setting. These parents are prepared to receive technology-based information about their child's surgery and to schedule non-emergency hospital appointments online.