Valerie Gilchrist, MD; Kendra Nervik, PhD(c); Collin Ellenbecker, BSc; Wen-Jan Tuan, DHA, MS, MPH; Mark A. Micek, MD, MPH; Ellen Goldstein, PhD, MFT
Introduction: Telemedicine has become an integral part of primary care since the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper reports patients’ assessments of their early telemedicine visits.
Methods: Adult primary care patients who had a telemedicine visit were identified from electronic medical records of a large Midwestern health system and randomly invited to participate in semistructured interviews. Participants compared telemedicine visits (audio and video) to face-to-face visits on measures of satisfaction and answered open-ended questions about the technology, primary care relationships, and ongoing use of telemedicine. Interviews were recorded and responses transcribed for qualitative analysis.
Results: The quantitative results revealed participants valued convenience and judged telemedicine visits “about the same” as office visits on satisfaction measures. Participants were largely willing to have another telemedicine visit but were concerned with the technological challenges and lack of physical examination. The qualitative analysis found most participants reported that telemedicine care was best with a known clinician. Further, they judged telemedicine to be best for follow-ups and simple or single problems and believed it should be balanced with face-to-face visits.
Conclusions: Participants expect telemedicine will continue and have clearly articulated their telemedicine preferences. These preferences include telemedicine with a known clinician, the visits that they judged most appropriate for telemedicine, the need to balance telemedicine with face-to-face visits, and assured technologic access. The need for quality measures beyond patient satisfaction and the role of team-based telemedicine care emerged as areas for further research.