Telemedicine is the practice of healthcare using audio, video, and data communications. The aim of this study was to determine the perceptions of health professionals at hospitals adopting and not adopting telemedicine on its benefits and challenges, and their willingness to use it. The study was conducted at one hospital not adopting telemedicine and three hospitals adopting telemedicine. It was a cross-sectional descriptive study, and the target population was health professionals. Data collection methods included two paper-based questionnaires. Nonparametric statistical analysis and descriptive statistics were used. The study concluded that although telemedicine is promising and the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has allocated a huge budget for e-health, the telemedicine modalities used were very limited. The percentage of adoption of telemedicine by health professionals was low in comparison to the high interest of nonadopters. Nonadopters' perception of benefits was higher than that of adopters. The most frequently cited benefits among adopters were improving the quality of care, enhancing access to healthcare, and providing patient care and management. However, adopters' perceptions were low for other benefits such as easy use of the network, the use of store-and-forward telemedicine, and the ability to follow up after face-to-face contacts. The greatest barrier as perceived by health providers was the lack of knowledge about telemedicine. Dissemination of information about telemedicine and proper training of health professionals on its use are recommended.
Keywords: Saudi Arabia; health providers; perception; telemedicine.