The Use of Telemedicine in Complementary Medicine Consulting: A Survey of Homeopaths and Naturopaths in Ontario, Canada
05 February 2020 (online)
Background and Aims: Telemedicine, defined as the use of online and telephone-based technologies in health service delivery, holds great potential for the delivery of care in both conventional biomedicine and in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine. These technologies have promise for reaching underserved populations, providing access to non-local specialists, and being convenient for patients. This research aims to investigate the extent of, rationale for, as well as strengths and challenges associated with, telemedicine-based consulting by homeopaths and naturopathic doctors in active clinical practice.
Methods: Using a census-based approach, state-regulated homeopaths (n = 502) and naturopathic doctors (n = 1502) in Ontario, Canada were surveyed using the online Qualtrics survey tool. Survey questions captured demographic and socio-economic data of respondents as well as opinions regarding respondents’ motivations behind telemedicine use.
Results: The survey is ongoing with a current response rate for the homeopathy email respondents of over 30%, and over 60% of homeopaths reporting having performed a homeopathic consultation with a patient using face-to-face online video in the past 6 months. Preliminary analysis indicates that for respondents who reported telemedicine use, the average percentage of their practice devoted to face-to-face online video was approximately 20%. In contrast, approximately 35% of naturopaths who have responded to date reported having performed a consultation with a patient using online video in the past 6 months, with approximately 10% of their practice devoted to online video consultations.
Conclusions: Face-to-face online video appears to be used by a majority of homeopaths in Ontario, Canada. Ontario homeopaths are nearly twice as likely to engage in online video consultations as naturopaths. Future analysis of the data will explore the motivations behind telemedicine use amongst homeopaths and naturopaths in Ontario as well as any demographic or socio-economic factors influencing telemedicine usage.
Keywords: Homeopathy, naturopathy, telemedicine, survey