There is an increasing interest in assessing telemedicine as alternative method of delivering high quality cancer treatment to patients living in rural areas. In the Province of Trento (north-east Italy) a tele-oncology system was implemented to provide non-surgical oncological consultation to district general hospitals. The aim of this study was to explore user-satisfaction with the system after 6 months of experimentation. During the on-field validation two questionnaires with open and closed-response questions were distributed to 80 physicians and nurses 6 months apart to investigate the users' expected benefits vs. perceived ones. The two questionnaires were compared to assess how perceived benefits differed from expected ones. Significant differences were found regarding improvements in: the standardization of diagnostic-therapeutic procedures using the Electronic Patient Record (EPR)]; information sharing; data updating; consultation speed; and the possibility to diminish patients' travels through the use of teleconsultation (TC). Physicians' responses showed a significant difference regarding the EPR's effects on relationship with patient, the nurses' responses with regards to its effects on care quality. Physicians felt that both modalities of teleconsultation were useful in enhancing communication with colleagues (86% for the synchronous TC, 80% for the asynchronous TC). Responses indicated that the major difficulties encountered were in the introduction of the system into the daily routine. Despite this, user expectations for its future use in clinical field were considerably high.
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