Telemedicine has been promoted as an economical and effective way to enhance patient care, but its acceptance among patients in low-income and middle-income countries is poorly understood. This study is aimed to explore the experiences and perspectives of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus that used telemedicine to manage their condition.
In-depth and focus group interviews were conducted with participants who have engaged in telemedicine. Questions included were participants’ perception on the programme being used, satisfaction as well as engagement with the telemedicine programme. All interviews and focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using a thematic approach.
Participants and setting
People with type 2 diabetes (n=48) who participated in a randomised controlled study which examined the use of telemedicine for diabetes management were recruited from 11 primary care clinics located within the Klang Valley.
Twelve focus groups and two in-depth interviews were conducted. Four themes emerged from the analysis: (1) generational difference; (2) independence and convenience, (3) sharing of health data and privacy and (4) concerns and challenges. The main obstacles found in patients using the telemedicine systems were related to internet connectivity and difficulties experienced with system interface. Cost was also another significant concern raised by participants. Participants in this study were primarily positive about the benefits of telemedicine, including its ability to provide real-time data and disease monitoring and the reduction in clinic visits.
Despite the potential benefits of telemedicine in the long-term care of diabetes, there are several perceived barriers that may limit the effectiveness of this technology. As such, collaboration between educators, healthcare providers, telecommunication service providers and patients are required to stimulate the adoption and the use of telemedicine.