06 July 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic forced physicians to quickly adapt and find ways to provide their usual offline services by using online tools. We aimed to understand how physicians adapted to the sudden need for telehealth and if their perception of telehealth changed due to their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted an exploratory sequential mixed-methods study. We interviewed five Lebanese physicians and thematically analyzed the interviews. We developed a questionnaire based on the analysis results and administered it online to physicians in Lebanon. In total, 140 responses were collected. We found that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians engaged in more telehealth activities in the realms of telemedicine, public awareness, continuing medical education, research, administration, and teaching. They also expanded their repertoire of information-technology tools. Our results also show that there was a significant shift in the physicians’ perceptions, indicating greater openness and willingness to adopt telehealth services. However, a significant amount of skepticism and uncertainty regarding telemedicine remains, especially concerning its efficiency, safety, and the adequacy of existing regulations. Based on our findings, we offer recommendations for health IT policy makers, developers, and researchers, to sustain the continuity of telehealth activities beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.