As healthcare demands exceed outpatient physicians’ capacities, telemedicine holds far-reaching potential for both physicians and patients. It is crucial to holistically analyze physicians’ acceptance of telemedical applications, such as online consultations. This study seeks to identify supporting and constraining factors that influence outpatient physicians’ acceptance of telemedicine.
We develop a model based on the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT). To empirically examine our research model, we conducted a survey among German physicians (n = 127) in 2018–2019. We used the partial least squares (PLS) modeling approach to test our model, including a mediation analysis.
The results indicate that performance expectancy (β = .397, P < .001), effort expectancy (β = .134, P = .03), and social influence (β = .337, P < .001) strongly impact the intention to conduct online consultations and explain 55% of its variance. Structural conditions regarding data security comprise a key antecedent, associating with performance expectancy (β = .193, P < .001) and effort expectancy (β = .295, P < .001). Regarding potential barriers to usage intentions, we find that IT anxiety predicts performance (β = –.342, P < .001) and effort expectancy (β = –.364, P < .001), while performance expectancy fully mediates (βdirect = .022, P = .71; βindirect = -.138, P < .001) the direct relationship between IT anxiety and the intention to use telemedical applications.
This research provides explanations for physicians’ behavioral intention to use online consultations, underlining UTAUT’s applicability in healthcare contexts. To boost acceptance, social influences, such as personal connections and networking are vital, as colleagues can serve as multipliers to reach convergence on online consultations among peers. To overcome physicians’ IT anxiety, training, demonstrations, knowledge sharing, and management incentives are recommended. Furthermore, regulations and standards to build trust in the compliance of online consultations with data protection guidelines need reinforcement from policymakers and hospital management alike.