In the digital age, a rising number of public sector doctors are providing private telemedicine and telehealth services on online health care platforms. This novel practice pattern – termed online dual practice – may profoundly impact health system performance in both developed and developing countries. This study aims to understand the factors influencing doctors’ engagement in online dual practice.
Using a mixed-methods design, this study concurrently collects quantitative demographic and practice data (n = 71 944) and semi-structured interview data (n = 32) on secondary and tertiary public hospital doctors in three large Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. We use the quantitative data to examine the prevalence of the online dual practice and its associated factors via the binary logit regression model. The qualitative data are used to further explore associated factors of online dual practice via thematic analysis. The findings about associated factors from the two parts were merged using the categories of personal, professional, and organisational characteristics.
Our quantitative analysis shows that at least 47.1% of public hospital doctors are involved in online dual practice. The shares in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are 43.7%, 53.1%, and 44.8%, respectively. This practice is more prevalent among doctors who are male, senior, and non-managerial. Different specialties, hospital ownership, hospital levels, and locations are also significantly associated with this practice. The qualitative analysis further suggests that financial returns, perceived effectiveness of telemedicine, and hospital directors’ attitude towards telemedicine may affect doctors’ engagement with online dual practice.
Online dual practice is prevalent among doctors at tertiary and secondary public hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Personal, professional, and organisational characteristics are all associated with doctors’ choice to engage in online dual practice. The findings in this study provide implications for promoting telemedicine adoption and developing relevant regulatory policies in China and other countries.
- Xu, Duo, Yushu Huang, Sian Tsuei, Hongqiao Fu, Winnie Yip. 2023. “Factors influencing engagement in online dual practice by public hospital doctors in three large cities: A mixed-methods study in China.” Journal of Global Health 13:04103. doi: 10.7189/jogh.13.04103