Sara Zoran, MS, CGC; Christie Turcott, MS, CGC; Amy Whitehead, MPA; Lynn Hrabik, MPH, RDN; Anne Harris, PhD; Jessica Scott Schwoerer, MD
Background: The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic interrupted delivery of outpatient health care to minimize risk of exposure. This pandemic threatened to increase longstanding national concerns about access to both initial and follow-up genetics clinics services. The Medical Genetics Clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center (WCMGC) rapidly transitioned to offering appointments using telemedicine in March 2020 when the public health emergency for COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
Methods: Datasets were reviewed for the periods April – July 2019 (pre-COVID baseline) and April – July 2020 (COVID project data). Patient schedules were accessed to determine the number of appointments kept, no-shows, and late cancellations. A telephone survey was utilized to assess patient satisfaction with telemedicine.
Results: Fewer appointments were missed and providers completed more clinic visits after transitioning to telemedicine. Patients and their families were equally satisfied with care received and were amenable to telemedicine use in the future. Telemedicine allowed WCMGC to continue serving patients during a period of restricted on-site services, suggesting its continuation would improve access to genetic services.