Stakeholders approve of virtual consultations — survey

Gastroenterologists and patients report high satisfaction rates with telehealth services during novel Covid-19 pandemic

Community-based patients with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and providers of medical services both expressed satisfaction with virtual consultations during the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey is reporting.

In the paper, ‘Gastroenterologists and Patients Report High Satisfaction Rates With Telehealth Services During the Novel Coronavirus 2019 Pandemic’, researchers noted that because of the pandemic, the use of telehealth had “increased dramatically to reduce disease transmission while ensuring continuity of care”.

Their survey of community-based GI patients and medical service providers, they said, showed high satisfaction and acceptance with virtual meetings.

“The results of our surveys are noteworthy for several reasons,” Dobrusin et al wrote in October’s edition of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (CGH).

“Although previous studies have investigated provider and patient satisfaction in the provision of urology, dermatology, and urgent care, this survey evaluated provider and patient satisfaction in the setting of community-based general GI practices,” the researchers added.

During the survey, a total of 13,084 patients from two community-based GI practices in the United States — in Michigan and Washington, DC regions — who participated in a telehealth visit from March to May 2020 were sent an online satisfaction survey by email.

Responses were received from 1,492 patients as of June 17. The survey contained two statements: “My GI provider was able to address my concerns during the telehealth visit,” and “I am willing to have more telehealth visits in the future.”

An opinion survey was also distributed to 95 independent GI practices.

Seventy-one practices with 2,017 providers opted to participate in the survey and responses were received from 503 of those providers (22.9% overall response rate).

The provider survey consisted of four prompts: “Telemedicine is an acceptable care delivery model for a segment of GI patients”; “Telemedicine allows me to get an accurate health history for my patients and formulate a satisfactory care plan”; “Telemedicine allows me to provide timely testing and follow-through without interruption to patient care”; and “I will continue using telemedicine in my practice to deliver patient care”.

The results showed that stakeholders experienced high satisfaction with and acceptance of telehealth when it was implemented in response to a disruption of the healthcare system.

“Further research is needed to determine the effect of telehealth on patient outcome,” the researchers added.

CGH, doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2020.07.014.

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