"We are so close; yet too far": perceived barriers to smartphone-based telerehabilitation among healthcare providers and patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in India

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Background: Telerehabilitation is imperative and impending in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. However, its feasibility in low- and middle-income nations such as India remained unclear. Objective: To assess the feasibility of administering a smartphone-based telerehabilitation program for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients in India. Material and method: An online cross-sectional survey was administered to stakeholders of the telerehabilitation program: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, health care professionals including pulmonary care physicians, rehabilitation nurses and physiotherapists. The survey sought to ascertain the causes, barriers, and facilitators associated with the implementation of smartphone-based telerehabilitation, as well as strategies for practice improvement. Results: While 71% (n = 37/52) of the 52 healthcare professionals surveyed were aware of smartphone-based telerehabilitation, implementation was found to be extremely low (n = 4/37; 10%). The majority of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 21/30; 70%) agreed to accept smartphone-based telerehabilitation as one of their treatment options. In India, challenges to efficient telerehabilitation implementation included a lack of infrastructure, perceived time consumption, a lack of expertise and training, organizational support, and perceived inefficacy. Conclusion: While knowledge of smartphone-based telerehabilitation is high among healthcare professionals and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, implementation of this novel intervention measure has been limited due to perceived constraints associated with smartphone-based telerehabilitation. Adapting national and organizational policies to support smartphone-based telerehabilitation services is critical during this decade of social isolation.



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