Background: The first surge of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to a shutdown of all non-urgent medical services such as cardiac rehabilitation. Therefore, centres had to develop remote and innovative ways to deliver the core components of CR during this shutdown. This increase in usage of remote rehabilitation services provides a chance to assess patients' experiences and willingness-to-pay of remote CR sessions.
Methods: This was a prospective single-centre study. From 17 July 2020, to 19 August 2020, we conducted an anonymous survey about the patient experiences of the cardiac telerehabilitation services provided at Jessa Hospital Hasselt during the COVID-19 pandemic. A link to an electronic questionnaire was sent via email to 155 patients who were invited to participate in the cardiac telerehabilitation sessions during the closure of the rehabilitation centre due to COVID-19.
Results: Fifty-five patients (35% of all invited patients) did participate in remote CR and completed the questionnaire. The mean age of the respondents was 65.4 ± 10.5 years, 63% were male and 70% of the participants were retired. A total of 91% possessed a smartphone and all those patients used their smartphone regularly to send text messages. Ninety-four per cent of the participants were satisfied with the provided telerehabilitation sessions and 70% of the participants would be prepared to pay for these sessions like for centre-based CR sessions. Twenty per cent of patients would even prefer the telerehabilitation sessions above centre-based CR sessions.
Conclusion: Most patients believed that remote CR could be an option after the COVID-19 pandemic when it is combined with centre-based CR sessions. Patients are willing to pay the same amount for a telerehabilitation session as a centre-based CR session. This demonstrates that highly motivated patients are open to shift certain parts of CR from face-to-face interactions to digital interactions.
Keywords: COVID-19; cardiac rehabilitation; cardiovascular disease; patient experience; telerehabilitation; willingness-to-pay.