The complex process of medical decision-making is prone also to medically extraneous influences or “non-medical” factors. We aimed to investigate the possible role of non-medical factors in doctors’ decision-making process in a telemedicine setting. Interviews with 15 physicians who work in a pediatric telemedicine service were conducted. Those included a qualitative section, in which the physicians were asked about the role of non-medical factors in their decisions. Their responses to three clinical scenarios were also analyzed. In an additional quantitative section, a random sample of 339 parent -physician consultations, held during 2014–2017, was analyzed retrospectively. Various non-medical factors were identified with respect to their possible effect on primary and secondary decisions, the accuracy of diagnosis, and “reasonability” of the decisions. Various non-medical factors were found to influence physicians’ decisions. Those factors were related to the child, the applying parent, the physician, the interaction between the doctor and parents, the shift, and to demographic considerations, and were also found to influence the ability to make an accurate diagnosis and “reasonable” decisions. Our conclusion was that non-medical factors have an impact on doctor’s decisions, even in the setting of telemedicine, and should be considered for improving medical decisions in this milieu.
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- non-medical factors