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Use of e-health in Dutch general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keuper, J., Batenburg, R., Verheij, R., Tuyl, L. van. Use of e-health in Dutch general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: 2021, 18(23)
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Background and aim
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced general practices to search for possibilities to provide healthcare remotely (e.g., e-health). In this study, the impact of the pandemic on the use of e-health in general practices in the Netherlands was investigated. In addition, the intention of practices to continue using e-health more intensively and differences in the use of e-health between practice types were investigated.

Method
For this purpose, web surveys were sent to general practices in April and July 2020. Descriptive data analysis was performed and differences in the use of e-health between practice types were tested using one-way ANOVA.

Results
Response rates were 34% (n = 1433) in April and 17% (n = 719) in July. The pandemic invoked an increased use of several (new) e-health applications. A minority of practices indicated the intention to maintain this increased use. In addition, small differences in the use of e-health between the different practice types were found.

Conclusion
This study showed that although there was an increased uptake of e-health in Dutch general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic, only a minority of practices intends to maintain this increased use in the future. This may point towards a temporary uptake of digital healthcare delivery rather than accelerated implementation of digital processes.