Introduction: Telemedicine infectious diseases consultations (tele-ID consults) improves access to healthcare for underserved/resource-limited communities. However, factors promoting or hindering implementation of tele-ID consults in low-resource settings are understudied. This study sought to fill this gap by describing perceived barriers and facilitators tele-ID consults at three rural hospitals in southeastern Missouri. Methods: Twelve in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposively sampled group of information-rich hospital stakeholders from three rural, southeastern Missouri hospitals with partial or no on-site availability of ID physicians. Our literature-informed interview guide elicited participants’ knowledge and experience with tele-ID consults, perceptions on ID consultation needs, and perceived barriers to and facilitators of tele-ID consults. Interview transcripts were coded using an iterative process of inductive analysis to identify core themes related to barriers and facilitators. Results: Perceived barriers to adopting and implementing tele-ID consults included logistical challenges, technology and devices, negative emotional responses, patient-related factors, concerns about reduced quality of care when using telemedicine, lack of acceptance or buy-in from physicians or staff, and legal concerns. Key facilitators included perceived need, perceived benefits to patients and physicians, flexibility and openness to change among staff members and patients, telemedicine champions, prior experiences, and enthusiasm. Discussion: Our findings demonstrate that rural hospitals need tele-ID consults and have the capacity to implement tele-ID consults, but operational and technical feasibility challenges remain. Adoption and implementation of tele-ID consults may reduce ID-physician shortage-related service gaps by permitting ID physician's greater geographic reach.
- infectious diseases consultation