|مجال التميز||تميز دراسي وبحثي|
|حصل الطالب على درجة الماجستير بتقدير “امتياز”|
Exploring the Attitudes of Patients towards using the Seha Application (Telehealth) in Saudi Arabia during the Coronavirus Epidemic
|رابط إلى البحث:|
|موجز عن البحث:||
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic that was declared in March 2020, caused profound changes to public life across the globe. Restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus were enforced that included staying at home and minimizing social interaction. These changes saw an environment emerge that demanded remote healthcare, and telehealth platforms and applications quickly began to fulfill this demand. One such platform in Saudi Arabia was Seha, a Ministry of Health smartphone application that provides information, self-evaluation, and teleconsultations.
Purpose: To explore Seha users’ (patients) attitudes toward the Seha smartphone application during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: A qualitative, grounded theory approach using thematic analysis of data collected through open-ended semi-structured interviews with seventeen residents of Jeddah.
Results: Three themes emerged – 1) COVID-19 and usage patterns, as Seha helped patients reduce person-to-person contact and usage increased, especially for emergencies; 2) ease of use and access, especially to approved doctors and reliable information; 3) time and cost savings, although it was also noted that these are more readily available to individuals and areas with access to sufficient internet infrastructure.
Discussion: Concerns were raised about technical issues or misdiagnoses when using Seha for emergency cases, as the platform may prove unsuitable. Traditional barriers to telehealth adoption seemed to be absent, but these may re-emerge when the immediate crisis is over. Further issues concerned the diminishment of the doctor-patient relationship, especially the lack of information on doctors’ profiles, problems that may be experienced by older people, and lack of language variety. These lead to access problems that may be critical in a pandemic or emergency situation. Finally, the ‘digital divide’ may result in increased health inequality, and such an outcome must be avoided.
Conclusion: The pandemic has shown telehealth applications like Seha to be a crucial tool in controlling infection rates, but the loss of face-to-face interaction with medical professionals, technical disparities, and access difficulties for certain groups may present problems for the Saudi health system unless they are taken into account and telehealth is carefully implemented into the system along with appropriate investment in infrastructure.