Background: As an innovative approach to providing web-based health care services from physical hospitals to patients at a distance, e-hospitals (ie, extended care hospitals through the internet) have been extensively developed in China. This closed health care delivery chain was developed by combining e-hospitals with physical hospitals; treatment begins with web-based consultation and registration, and then, patients are diagnosed and treated in a physical hospital. This approach is promising in its ability to improve accessibility, efficiency, and quality of health care. However, there is limited research on end users' acceptance of e-hospitals and the effectiveness of strategies aimed to prompt the adoption of e-hospitals in China.
Objective: This study aimed to provide insights regarding the adoption of e-hospitals by investigating patients' willingness to use e-hospitals and analyzing the barriers and facilitators to the adoption of this technology.
Methods: We used a pretested self-administered questionnaire and performed a cross-sectional analysis in 1032 patients across three hierarchical hospitals in West China from June to August 2019. Patients' sociodemographic characteristics, medical history, current disease status, proficiency with electronic devices, previous experience with web-based health services, willingness to use e-hospitals, and perceived facilitators and barriers were surveyed. Multiple significance tests were employed to examine disparities across four age groups, as well as those between patients who were willing to use e-hospitals and those who were not. Multivariate logistic regression was also performed to identify the potential predictors of willingness to use e-hospitals.
Results: Overall, it was found that 65.6% (677/1032) of participants were willing to use e-hospitals. The significant predictors of willingness to use e-hospitals were employment status (P=.02), living with children (P<.001), education level (P=.046), information technology skills (P<.001), and prior experience with web-based health care services (P<.001), whereas age, income, medical insurance, and familiarity with e-hospitals were not predictors. Additionally, the prominent facilitators of e-hospitals were convenience (641/677, 94.7%) and accessibility to skilled medical experts (489/677, 72.2%). The most frequently perceived barrier varied among age groups; seniors most often reported their inability to operate technological devices as a barrier (144/166, 86.7%), whereas young participants most often reported that they avoided e-hospital services because they were accustomed to face-to-face consultation (39/52, 75%).
Conclusions: We identified the variables, facilitators, and barriers that play essential roles in the adoption of e-hospitals. Based on our findings, we suggest that efforts to increase the adoption of e-hospitals should focus on making target populations accustomed to web-based health care services while maximizing ease of use and providing assistance for technological inquiries.
Keywords: barriers; e-hospital; eHealth; facilitators; innovation adoption; internet hospital.
©Peiyi Li, Yunmei Luo, Xuexin Yu, Jin Wen, Elizabeth Mason, Weimin Li, Mohammad S Jalali. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 11.06.2020.