Frequency of Use, Perceptions and Barriers of Information and Communication Technologies Among Latin American Physicians: An Ecuadorian Cross-Sectional Study

J Multidiscip Healthc. 2020 Mar 12;13:259-269. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S246253. eCollection 2020.


Objective: In recent years, the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has increased in various sectors, among which the healthcare service is no exception. However, studies have mostly focused on the use of ICTs among patients with chronic diseases, with few reports on the advantages and barriers of these technologies among physicians, particularly in Latin America. We designed this study to fill in the gap, as an objective assessment of the frequency of use, perceptions, and barriers of ICTs among physicians remains crucial for a successful implementation of these technologies into the mainstream medical practice.

Methods: We conducted an anonymous cross-sectional survey-based study in 640 Ecuadorian physicians. The survey used consisted of 13 items and evaluated the frequency of use, perceptions, and barriers of ICTs among physicians. Chi-square tests for goodness of fit and independence were performed, whilst Phi coefficient was interpreted to assess the strength of associations. Fisher exact test was performed when required.

Results: Over 90% of physicians reported the use of ICTs to message other colleagues and patients (p=0.000). While 89.5% of physicians used social media to interact with other colleagues, only 58.1% used them to interact with patients (p=0.000). Most participants reported the use of ICTs to search for academic information (p=0.000). Moreover, more than 80.0% agree that ICTs may be used to promote health and medical services, search new job opportunities, get involved in research projects and promote teamwork with colleagues. However, 83.6% of physicians expressed concerns about privacy and patient confidentiality, while 53.8% stated that they lacked the time to use ICTs.

Conclusion: High usage of ICTs was found among Ecuadorian physicians. Younger physicians, with less postgraduate years, and non-specialists were more likely to have a positive perception toward ICTs. Privacy and patient confidentiality, followed by time management, were the most reported barriers in our study.

Keywords: eHealth; medical informatics; public health; social media; web 2.0.

Grant support

This work was funded and supported by Universidad Espiritu Santo. The sponsor had no role in the study design, data recollection or statistical analyses.