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Community Pharmacists' Knowledge and Perception towards Telepharmacy Services and Willingness to Practice It in Light of COVID-19.

BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was increased adoption of telepharmacy, which has proven benefits. This study was conducted to assess the knowledge and perception of the community pharmacists of Aseer region, Saudi Arabia, towards telepharmacy services and evaluate their willingness to adopt telepharmacy in clinical practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted using an online self-administered structured anonymous questionnaire on the community pharmacists of Aseer region, Saudi Arabia. It covers demographics, computer access and literacy, knowledge and perception, and willingness to practice telepharmacy. Results were expressed as frequencies, percentages, and mean. The comparison between the classes of the demographic variables and the scores was done via Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney tests.

RESULT: About half of the pharmacists in our study showed average knowledge about telepharmacy, the practical application of telepharmacy technology, and telepharmacy guidelines with a percentage of 53%, 52%, and 47%, respectively). Majority of the participants showed high perception towards telepharmacy in Saudi Arabia, while 93% of the pharmacists in Saudi Arabia agreed that the implementation of telepharmacy technology is appropriate due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Only a significant relation was found between gender and computer access, literacy, and perceptions towards telepharmacy with p values of 0.033 and 0.026, respectively.

CONCLUSION: The majority of the community pharmacists exhibited a positive perception and are willing to practice the concept of telepharmacy despite having a below average knowledge of telepharmacy. A future study involving the entire kingdom of Saudi Arabia could help identify the gaps in the knowledge, perception, and willingness to practice telepharmacy on a broader scale and thus promote telepharmacy adoption in the entire kingdom.

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