Virtual video visits give patients more flexibility without diminishing care quality: 7 survey findings

A majority of patients and providers agree that virtual video visits do not offer lower care quality when compared to regular office visits, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Researchers from Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital surveyed 254 patients after their first virtual visit via the MGH TeleHealth Program, which was launched in 2012 and began offering video visits in 2013. They also polled 61 clinicians who participated in the first full year of the program.

Seven key findings from the survey:

1. Sixty-two percent of patients reported virtual video visit quality was similar to that of office visits.

2. Twenty-one percent of patients felt that the overall quality of virtual visits was better.

3. Sixty-eight percent of patients rated virtual video visits at 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale.

4. Most patients (79 percent) reported finding a convenient time for a follow-up virtual video visit was easier than a traditional office visit.

5. A majority of health professionals providing virtual video visits (59 percent) also said virtual visit quality was similar to that of office visits.

6. However, one third of clinicians thought office visit quality was better.

7. While 46 percent of clinicians said they thought office visits were better with regard to feeling a "personal connection" with their patient, only 33 percent of patients felt the same.

8. But, clinicians reported that virtual video visits were better than office visits with regard to timely scheduling of patient appointments (70.5 percent) and visit efficiency (52.5 percent).

"Some of the participants in our study were parents of children who needed multiple frequent visits or older patients for whom travel was difficult to arrange," said Karen Donelan, ScD, a senior scientist at the MGH's Mongan Institute Health Policy Center and lead author of the paper. "It did not surprise us that they found virtual visits more convenient, but we were impressed that nearly all perceived the quality of care or communication to be the same or better than at the traditional and familiar office visits."

More articles on telehealth:
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Tyto Care integrates Health Navigator's symptom checker solution
Medici acquires telemedicine company Chiron Health

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