Patients' likes & dislikes about telemedicine: 5 things to know 

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, U.S. providers have transitioned one-third or more of their in-person care to telemedicine, signaling a shift in the patient experience and consumer expectations for convenience of care, according to Jessica Dudley, MD, and Iyue Sung. 

In a Dec. 8 op-ed for Harvard Business Review, Dr. Dudley, chief clinical officer at Press Ganey and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and Mr. Sung, vice president of enterprise analytics at Press Ganey, highlighted some findings from the patient satisfaction survey company's recent report on telemedicine perceptions. The report includes 1.3 million patient questionnaires from 154 medical practices surveying both in-person and telemedicine visits between January and August 2020. 

Five things to know: 

1. Telemedicine visits peaked at about 37 percent of all encounters in early May and then dropped to 22 percent in early July. These numbers leveled out at about 15 percent by mid-August, which is still a steep increase from the pre-pandemic baseline of less than 1 percent. 

2. Survey participants were just as likely, or even slightly more likely, to rate their providers highly after telemedicine visits compared with in-person visits. This finding occurred across specialties and for measurements of providers' concern, ability to establish a connection and trust building. 

3. The telehealth connection appears to resonate with patients because providers actually can seem more attentive on screen compared to in person, according to Dr. Dudley and Mr. Sung. 

"One patient commented that while her doctor always seemed distracted by a computer screen during in-person visits, during video visits the doctor looked directly at her," they wrote. "Some providers have also suggested that simply scheduling a televisit can signal a doctor’s attentiveness." 

4. There are still issues with logistical factors, such as ease of scheduling and establishing audio/video connections; the survey found that while 89 percent of patients would recommend their provider after having a telemedicine visit, only 76 percent would recommend a video visit following a virtual care encounter. 

5. Dr. Dudley and Mr. Sung offered the following improvement tips for organizations: establish a central resource team to scale telemedicine operations and optimize tech for video visits as well as develop telemedicine capabilities to deliver virtual care across all specialties. 


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