Context

Telemedicine is the delivery of medical care from a distance using technology. The integration of telemedicine as a supplement to musculoskeletal-based patient encounters may be feasible in sports medicine.

Objective

To investigate health care professionals' perceptions of and experiences with telemedicine.

Design

Cross-sectional explanatory sequential mixed-methods study.

Patients or Other Participants

A purposeful sample of 17 athletic trainers from a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 institution and 5 orthopaedic physicians from a sports medicine clinic located 92 miles from the campus.

Intervention(s)

Participants were trained on the telemedicine platform and used it over 5 months for initial, follow-up, and discharge patient encounters.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Participants completed a preintervention survey containing the Theory of Planned Behavior and Technology Acceptance Model tool. Responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics and an independent-samples t test. After the intervention period, participants completed individual semistructured interviews that we coded using the consensual qualitative research tradition.

Results

From the interviews, the clinicians were characterized as telemedicine adopters (n = 14) or nonadopters (n = 8). The adopters reported higher levels of agreement on the Theory of Planned Behavior and Technology Acceptance Model tool as compared with nonadopters for all constructs. When comparing adoption status, we identified a difference (P < .01), with nonadopters reporting a low level of agreement for the subjective norm construct. The interviews revealed 5 domains: integration challenges, integration opportunities, collaborative practice, anticipatory socialization to future use, and benefits of integration. The participants indicated that integration challenges centered on “buy in,” whereas opportunities aligned with the patient's condition and technology ease of use. They reflected that the telemedicine encounters required more preparation and yet allowed for cooperative behaviors between clinicians. The benefits of telemedicine included convenience and scheduling preferences that encouraged future use.

Conclusions

The integration of telemedicine in sports medicine brought about both challenges and opportunities for collaboration among athletic trainers and physicians that were heavily predetermined by the social pressures of colleagues.

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