Introduction: The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has thrust telehealth into the center stage of health care, leading to a dramatic increase in utilization of telehealth services. The impact of telehealth on patient satisfaction during the current pandemic is yet to be fully understood. Objective: This study aimed to identify patient perspectives and behaviors toward virtual primary care appointments at a telehealth-naïve institution during the COVID-19 pandemic and establish the rate of missed appointments to help guide future implementation of telehealth services. Methods: Patients at a primary and specialty care clinic, seen between March and May 2020, completed a survey analyzing nine commonly used satisfaction metrics. The rate of missed appointments was recorded and compared with analogous cohorts of in-person office visits. Results: The no-show rate of telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic was 7.5% (14/186), lower than both the no-show rate of 36.1% for in-office visits (56/155) (p < 0.0001) and a pre-pandemic in-office no-show rate of 29.8% (129/433) (p < 0.0001). Surveyed patients who experienced telehealth visits (n = 65) had similar satisfaction compared with those surveyed who attended in-office visits (n = 36) in seven of nine metrics. No statistically significant differences were identified in the satisfaction metrics with telehealth visits performed on video (n = 26) versus the phone-only format (n = 38). Patients aged 65 years or over were less likely to have a video component to their virtual visit (1/12, 8.3%) than those under age 65 (25/44, 56.8%) (p = 0.0031). Discussion/Conclusions: Telehealth offers significant benefits for both patients and providers, strongly supporting its widespread utilization both during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; missed appointments; no-show rate; patient satisfaction; telehealth; telemedicine.