Challenges of using instant communication technology in the emergency department during the covid-19 pandemic: A focus group study

Yuh Shin Kuo, Chien Hsin Lu, Po Wei Chiu, Hung Chieh Chang, Yu Yuan Lin, Shao Peng Huang, Pei Yu Wang, Cheng Jen Chen, I. Chen Lin, Jing Shia Tang, Ying Hsin Chang, Ray Hsienho Chang, Chih Hao Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A record outbreak of community-spread COVID-19 started on 10 May 2021, in Taiwan. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, care facilities have adopted various protocols using instant communication technology (ICT) to provide remote yet timely healthcare while ensuring staff safety. The challenges of patient evaluation in the emergency department (ED) using ICT are seldom discussed in the literature. The objective of this study was to investigate the factors influencing the utility of ICT for patient assessment in emergency settings during the pandemic. The patient flow protocol and the ED layout were modified and regionalized into different areas according to the patient’s risk of COVID-19 infection. Nine iPads were stationed in different zones to aid in virtual patient assessment and communication between medical personnel. A focus group study was performed to assess and analyze the utility of the ICT module in the ED. Eight emergency physicians participated in the study. Of them, four (50%) had been directly involved in the development of the ICT module in the study hospital. Three main themes that influenced the application of the ICT module were identified: setting, hardware, and software. The setting theme included six factors: patient evaluation, subspecialty consultation, patient privacy and comfortableness, sanitation, cost, and patient acceptability. The hardware theme included six factors: internet connection, power, quality of image and voice, public or personal mode, portable or fixed mode, and maintenance. The software theme included six factors: platform choices, security, ICT accounts, interview modes, video/voice recording, and time limitation. Future studies should focus on quantifying module feasibility, user satisfaction, and protocol adjustment for different settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12463
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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