Patients’ perspective of telephone visits during the COVID-19 pandemic
Introduction: With the cessation of non-urgent clinical office visits due to the coronavirus, there has been a rapid shift to telephone and other virtual visits in outpatient practice. We conducted a survey to evaluate patients’ perspective of telephone visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: Patients receiving a scheduled telephone call as a virtual visit from urologists at our clinic were asked to participate in a three-minute, self-administered, online questionnaire. After verbal permission was obtained, the survey was emailed to each participant. The outcomes evaluated were telephone visit satisfaction and preference for type of appointment. Non-parametric tests were used to analyze the results. The study was approved by the Sunnybrook Research Ethics Board.
Results: A total of 102 participants were included; 96% of participants assessed the telephone visit as a positive experience in every survey question, while 45% expressed no preference. In those who expressed a preference, this was evenly divided between in-office visits and phone visits (p=0.0614). Participants who lived more than 75 km from the hospital were less likely to prefer an in-office visit compared to those residing locally (U=433, p=0.006; odds ratio 0.29, 95% confidence interval 0.106–0.779, p=0.0142).
Conclusions: In this survey, most participants assessed the telephone visit positively. Almost half had no preference and a similar proportion expressed a preference for in-office and telephone visits. Patients who resided farther from the hospital were more likely to prefer the telephone visit. This is the first study that we know of to assess patients’ preferences regarding remote encounters in urology.
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