Managing Satisfaction: What Patients Think of Telemedicine in 2019
Review recent studies on patient satisfaction in telemedicine and find out when and why patients prefer telemedicine to traditional care.
As more consumer-facing telemedicine platforms pop up and telehealth becomes more integrated into brick and mortar practices, you may be wondering, do patients even like receiving telemedicine care? Yes, there’s the obvious convenience factor, but what about personal patient-physician connections and the healing power of physical touch? How do telehealth visits fare when it comes to patient satisfaction?
Recent telehealth patient satisfaction data shows that patients are embracing telemedicine to a surprising degree - particularly for follow-up care. And the data isn’t just tied to primary care visits. Patients across specialties from psychiatry and obstetrics to rare disease management are rating telemedicine as equal to - or in some cases better than - traditional in-person consultations.
Review the recent trends in telemedicine patient satisfaction for 2019 and find out how telemedicine can improve the patient care experience.
Latest Telehealth Patient Satisfaction Survey Results
A new study of telemedicine use by Massachusetts General Hospital showed that “nearly all (patients) perceived the quality of care or communication to be the same or better than at the traditional and familiar office visits.” In fact, almost one quarter said the quality of telehealthcare was better than an in-person visit.
The study surveyed existing patients and clinicians to gather data on satisfaction in virtual video visits. Primary study results marked notable data in three categories:
- 79% of study participants said that it was easier to schedule a convenient appointment time for a telehealth follow-up visit than for a clinic visit
62% said the quality of care via telehealth was the same as an in-person visit
21% said the quality of care via telehealth was better than an in-person visit
68% rated their visit a nine or a ten on a ten-point satisfaction scale
66% said they had strong personal connections to their provider using telehealth
High Telemedicine Patient Satisfaction Among Specialties
Evidence has shown that patients aren’t just embracing telemedicine for basic healthcare ailments like flu, cold, and sore throat management. Specialist visits are also ranking high in perceived quality and satisfaction.
Notably, the Massachusetts General study revealed similar patient satisfaction scores across primary care and four specialty care services: psychiatry, neurology, cardiology, and oncology.
Other studies on telemedicine use in specialty care have shown similar patient satisfaction results.
A telehealth study of patients with rare neurological conditions showed that patient and clinician satisfaction scores did not vary between in-person and telemedicine consultations for follow-up appointments.
A telehealth study of radiation oncology patients showed that more than half of all patients reported they preferred telehealth for future consultations, about one-third desired a mix of telemedicine and in-person visits, and only one patient preferred in-person visits only.
A telehealth study of post-liver transplantation patients showed that patients were just as satisfied with communication and interpersonal approach compared to clinic patients.
A telehealth study of pregnant women showed that patients were more satisfied with virtual obstetric care than traditional care (although higher satisfaction in virtual care was more commonly found with those who already had children rather than first-time mothers).
A telehealth study of pediatric sports medicine patients showed that 90% of patients were satisfied with telemedicine care, saved an average of $50 per visit, and recouped over an hour in total wait and visit time.
Also noteworthy, many of the studies above were based on data from patients over 50, indicating patients of all ages are embracing telehealth, not just millennials who are typically considered more technologically comfortable.
How Does Telehealth Improve Patient Care?
Convenience, time savings, financial savings, and better access to care are commonly cited reasons for patient preference for telemedicine. Particularly in rural areas, patients value the time saved commuting to care centers for appointments.
And while telehealth can provide more convenient access to care, quality of communication and quality of care do not seem to be impacted. Many studies have shown no difference in perceived quality of patient-physician communication while still resulting in positive patient outcomes. And in some cases, studies show better patient outcomes and better medication adherence with the use of telemedicine for care.
How is Patient Satisfaction Measured in Telemedicine?
Another indication of telemedicine’s proliferation, Press Ganey, the leader in patient satisfaction surveys, recently developed two Telemedicine for Medical Practice Surveys to measure patient satisfaction with virtual health care visits.
Standardizing virtual care and the measurement tools to evaluate quality are two steps towards a better patient experience in telemedicine. As telehealth adoption grows and patients develop greater comfort with virtual care, providers must keep patient satisfaction and health outcomes top of mind when providing telemedicine services.