Telerehabilitation is defined as delivery of rehabilitation services over telecommunication networks and the internet, which comprise of clinical assessment (the patient’s functional abilities in his or her environment) and clinical therapy.This new area of medical advancement, using state of the art technology is developing at a great speed and is definitely going to be the next milestone in health care revolution.The objective of this study was to explore the awareness, knowledge and perception of the patients for using telerehabilitation as a medium to provide physiotherapy services as a part of home healthcare services. A pretest-post test design was used where the home healthcare patients (n = 90) aged between 50 -75 years were asked to express views by given a validated modified TUQ questionnaire followed by an indepth interviewing to develop a key understanding regarding the themes. Interviews were transcribed and a qualitative thematic analysis was conducted. The awareness level regarding the telerehabilitation changed significantly from 57% to 96% post session(p<0.05). Similarly, the knowledge of the participants regarding online consultation, followup and online therapy changed significantly from 50%, 47% and 57% to 96%, 76% and 96% respectively post session of rehabilitation(p<0.05). The perception level regarding the key benefits including its usage in emergency(83%), convenience of no travel(84%), ease of getting treated at home(97%) and availability of specialist consultation (84%) were the prime ideas for excellent rating among 95% participants (p<0.05) post session. Findings are helpful to health practitioners in designing their intervention programs across the kingdom. However the actual impact could be only derived from future studies which has to conducted based on different clinical conditions.
Telerehabilitation is defined as the provision and delivery of rehabilitation health services at a distance using information and communication technologies and tools (Tan 2005; Russell 2007). Throughout the world, the health care practices is going through major transformation as it is driven through sea change because of the increased use of technology. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia too is witnessing a massive change with significant restructuring of healthcare systems with some major high-end technology driven development solutions. The increased demand is created on account of rapidly increasing saudi population including the growing elderly community, changing disease patterns, global climatic changes and financial inequity (Mahmood 2018). According to a United nations report the elderly population of Saudi Arabia those aged 60 and above is projected to increase from 3% in 2010 to 9.5% and 18.4% in 2035 and 2050, respectively (UN Report, 2018).
Similarly, comparing this phenomenon to an average life expectancy of the population in Saudi Arabia, the latest WHO data published in 2018, suggests that Saudi male and female have an average of 73.5 and female 76.5 life years with an average life expectancy of 74.8 years as against an average world life expectancy of 84 years.The increased demand in kingdom also raised because of immense economic pressure with steep fall in global oil prices in 2015-16 affecting the GDP significantly thereby been one of the key stimulus for the government to take timely corrective actions and diversify the economy from heavily oil dependent to develop other verticals for revenue generation (MoH Report, 2018).
Brian child of Crown Prince HH Mohammad Bin Salman, Vision 2030 was adopted in April 2016 and has identified its priorities across all economic sectors and serves as a roadmap for the economic development of the KSA with development of health services been one of the most important key themes. Therefore, as a part of realization of this vision the government strongly supports the partnership of private and public sectors and been seen as a strong indication of the Government’s commitment for making healthcare accessible to its citizens irrespective of the disparities available in the Saudi society (Vision 2030 Report, 2016). Access to healthcare generally relates to people’s ability to use health services when and where they are needed. Determinants of healthcare access are the types and quality of services, including the costs, time, distance (ease of travel) as well as regular interface between service users and healthcare providers. Saudi Arabia is the largest and fastest growing health care market in the region and is estimated to reach $40 billion by 2020 (NTP 2020 Report, 2016).
Moreover, the steep increase in the number of hospitals across all major cities of KSA are run by both government and private organizations which use corporate business strategies and technology driven specializations, which aim to create demand as well as attract high number patients as the facilities in majority of these hospitals are world class.Among the various strategies listed in the NTP Report 2020, one of the key components of making healthcare accessible across the kingdom is the enhanced use of telemedicine (NTP 2020 Report, 2016). In the last one decade the health services across the kingdom have taken gigantic leap jumps with private healthcare taking lead and using innovations in delivering healthcare. One of such innovations is using Home Healthcare for delivering physiotherapy and other rehabilitation based services for the patients at home (Pulse Report 2018).
Rehabilitation is a very important component in medical care and helps in propelling patient to preinjury level. It is a well known fact that in all long term cases which requires follow-ups such as in surgical cases and other debilitating disorders including Stroke, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosios, rehabilitation is time consuming and financially constraining. To add to this, patients travelling long distances for treatment, it is not only physically challenging but emotionally draining too and especially in case of geriatric patients.Therefore home tele rehabilitation programs, are winding up progressively as an elective method of service delivery. In the western countries, quite a number of research studies has been proved that the Telerehabilitation for the delivery of health services is quite effective, however the scope of using such services in the kingdom is still novice and requires a detailed study, (Hailey et al., 2010, Johansson and Wild 2011, Chang et al 2019 ).
There are scant studies to prove its efficacy in the developing countries as its successful will depends on a number of factors (Clemens et al 2018) . However, among all the variables, the two most important are the technological component and second been its implementation in real terms (Jackson and McClean 2012, Clemens et al 2018). Accordingly, these both are of extreme critical importance from the patient satisfaction point of view. The perceptions of the stakeholders, i.e. the patient and the members of the Rehabilitation team are of utmost importance for its use and wide spread application.The home healthcare services in Saudi Arabia is still in infancy stages with few delivery partners across the kingdom. The usage of telerehabilitation is even more nascent, as the perception of patients in using such a technology for delivering healthcare would be quite critical and important to understand the phenomenon which would be quite useful in framing the guidelines for its applications at a mass level, (Alaboudi et al 2016).
Therefore, this study is an attempt to study the awareness, knowledge and perceptions of the home healthcare patients in using physiotherapy services delivered via cloud based telerehabilitation. This study, to our knowledge is the first of its kind in the kingdom especially from the perspective of home healthcare patients. It aims to explore the key ideas which might work in favour or against the successful implementation of telerehabilitation used for the home healthcare delivery.
Materials and Methods
The pretest-post test study design was conducted on home healthcare patients so as to obtain an in-depth understanding of the patients’ perception about telerehabilitation services which they will receive as a part of home health services. While a few studies conducted earlier emphasized about telemedicine to be a key part in delivery of health services, however none of the studies emphasized on perception of patients to implement telerehabilitation as part of home healthcare (Clemens et al 2018, Khalil et al 2018).
Due necessary approval were taken from the ethical clearance committee of the respective organization, which is a reputed home healthcare organization based in Riyadh. In order to recruit participants for the study, sample population were selected from a pool of home healthcare patients who were undergoing treatment under one of the most prominent home healthcare organizations in the kingdom, which incidentally was the only first licensed stand-alone home healthcare services company in Riyadh province.
The study was conducted from Jan 15 to May 30, 2019. In this context, non-probability sampling method was used. Out of 113 home healthcare patients who underwent treatment for different ailments, 90 were randomly selected who also gave their consent to participate in the study out of which 57 were males and 33 were females. Those patients who suffered from orthopedic problems such as Knee pain, low back ache, disc prolapse etc. or underwent orthopedic surgeries such as knee replacement or meniscectomy etc. participated in the study. The study mainly included common geriatric patients for the study who were willing to participate but excluded the pediatric and the critical care, neurological and cardiac patients as they underwent major surgeries such as for stroke or CABG and also were unable to respond directly to answer the questions. The patients who were able respond in English or Arabic were recruited for the study.
Based on literature review and discussion with key stakeholders, a questionnaire and an the interview guide was prepared, modified from Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (TUQ) based on key themes of perceived usefulness, ease of use and learnability, Interaction quality, Reliability and Satisfaction and future use (Langbecker et al 2017) . The questionnaire was converted to Arabic version adapted from the original English version and pilot tested for the home healthcare patients using both forward and backward translation methods and achieved very acceptable score of confirmatory factor analysis of 0.78 using SPSS. It was also pilot tested for the members of the rehabilitation team. The questionnaires as given in Appendix 1 were responded by the patients and the members of the rehabilitation team followed by a semi structured individual interview from the patient as well as from the team members involved in providing home health services. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim using Text Analysis Markup System (TAMS) Analyzer as suggested by Yin (Yin 2013).
The Tele-rehabilitation Technological solutions were a part of home health services which were delivered by the company. As a part of cloud based HIPAA compliant network, the telemedicine unit consists of a portal to track health metrics and rehabilitation treatment plan and progress by the PT specialists as well as the Case Managers. The system included case briefing, consultation by specialists as well as providing physiotherapy sessions both by Home health therapists or via health workers such as PTAs within the vicinity of home environment at patient’s ease as schematically represented in Fig. no.1.
Figure 1: Set-up for in-home telerehabilitation: (A) Framework system; (B) dashboard Screen (C) Integrated loop with benefits
The participants were given a pre and post session modified TUQ and asked to reflect on their entire rehabilitation experience using the Telerehabilitation platform so as to get relevant information about telemedicine services including key events such as finding out they would receive services at home by videoconference, having the internet and videoconferencing equipment installed at home and receiving services by videoconference including dealing with technical issues. Following the same detailed interview was taken using the TAMS so as to identify key ideas which can affect usage of telerehabilitation. . Statistical tests was conducted using SPSS for Pre-post differences evaluation. using paired t-tests to assess factors associated with awareness, knowledge and perception. Significance was set a priori at p < 0.05. […]