Background: Teleconsultations have been an indispensable part of the public health armamentarium during the COVID-19 crisis . Many physicians replaced face-to-face consultations with teleconsultations for the very first time . This study aimed to understand telemedicine uses by physicians during the lockdown period and explain the changes in their teleconsultation practices after the reopening of an outpatient department .
Methods: A mixed-method analysis was used . First, a quantitative study was conducted with a retrospective analysis of the ratio of all teleconsultations and physical consultations between January 1 and July 31 , 2020 . Second, semidirective interviews were undertaken with physicians to better understand the dynamics of teleconsultation use .
Results: In total, 28 physicians practiced 603 teleconsultations over the study period . The rate of teleconsultations was 0.2% before the lockdown (January 1 to March 15 , 2020), reaching 19.5% during the lockdown (April 2020), and decreasing to 8.4% at the reopening of the physical outpatient facilities . Based on the dynamics of their teleconsultation uses, four medical departments were selected for the qualitative study component (neurology, urology, pneumology, and anesthesiology). From the semistructured interviews, the main uses of telemedicine were for patients living with``chronic but under control"conditions that received follow-ups . Physicians also identified practices to improve patient empowerment and nurse autonomy . The results of the anesthesiology department showed that teleconsultations must be more codified to meet the same standards of quality as face-to-face consultations . Conclusion: The COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown period triggered a wider use of teleconsultations and have allowed physicians to think about new uses and opportunities.