The use of telehealth surged because of COVID-19 as patients early in the pandemic were urged to stay away from care facilities. As hospitals and doctor’s offices once again encouraged patients back to ensure the delivery of needed care, telehealth remained a vibrant part of how care is delivered. Now the Mass. Health Quality Partners (MHQP) has released a summary analysis
based on the telehealth surveys it has conducted throughout the pandemic that gauge both consumer and clinician feelings towards telehealth.
“The patients we surveyed had an overwhelmingly positive experience with telehealth,” MHQP reported last week. “When asked about their overall satisfaction with telehealth, 89% of patients who responded said it was either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good.’ Only 3% said it was either ‘Fair’ or ‘Poor.’”
“We asked providers about their experiences with video and telephone separately," MHQP continued. "In contrast to patients, only 43% of providers reported that their experience with video was either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good,’ and 46% of providers gave their phone experience one of those ratings. 30% and 27% of providers gave their video and phone experiences (respectfully) a rating of ‘Fair’ or ‘Poor.’”
MHQP stressed that the clinician responses seemed to correlate to the networks in which they operated. The MHQP posting states, "These results seem to indicate that the organizational approach and choice of telehealth technology may have a significant impact on provider experience and suggest that they are important opportunities for improvement in network-specific telehealth performance." (MHQP also stressed that the clinician samples were rather small and that the conclusions should be approached with caution.)
Patients like telehealth for its convenience and for quality and safety reasons during the pandemic, but they recognized its limitations. Providers were more apt to complain about “technology hassles.”
MHQP said the pandemic forced the healthcare system into "a massive experiment" with telehealth. The tMED Coalition, of which MHA is a member along with providers, advocates, and digital care companies across the state, continues to collaborate and inform healthcare organizations on how to integrate telehealth programs that are seamless for both the user and provider experience, as well as how to increase clinician familiarization, while minimizing discomfort, with the new technologies.