Telemedicine systems integrated into primary care may offer patients a convenient, high-quality alternative to in-person visits that could increase patient-centered access to health care, according to a brief research report published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The investigators conducted a cross-sectional study to examine patient experiences with video telemedicine visits, including convenience, quality, patient-provider relationship, and impact on in-person visits. The study included 1274 participants (78% response rate), 957 of whom completed a scheduled video visit with a primary care provider within the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health system, which integrates a patient portal available through a website and mobile applications into its electronic health record. The investigators distributed a survey to the study population, asking respondents about their video visit experience, technology access and experience, in-person visit barriers, and sociodemographic characteristics.
Patient-reported reasons for scheduling a video visit were convenience (87%), better treatment (82%), unsure of the necessity of an in-person visit (70%), and ease of asking sensitive questions (46%). Respondents reported good experiences with their video visit; their needs were adequately addressed (93%), the provider was familiar with their medical history (92%), they were confident in the quality of care provided (90%), and the video visit improved their relationship with the provider (84%). The primary barrier to video visits was a preference for in-person visits (41%); other concerns included preparing for a video visit (24%), getting adequate treatment (21%), and privacy (11%).
Limitations to the study were including only patients who scheduled a video visit and not surveying patients across a range of other settings (different payment models or telemedicine modalities) in which greater barriers to access may exist.
Although in-person visits pose certain challenges, like taking time off from work and other responsibilities, video visits were found to be convenient and of high quality. Additionally, patients reported that the providers were familiar with their medical history and that the video telemedicine visit strengthened their relationship with their provider.
Reed ME, Huang J, Parikh R, et al. Patient-provider video telemedicine integrated with clinical care: patient experiences [published online April 30, 2019]. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M18-3081