Patient Experiences with and Preferences for Telemedicine Relative to In-Person Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Telemed J E Health. 2024 Jan;30(1):67-76. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2022.0311. Epub 2023 May 23.


Introduction: Although telemedicine emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic as a critical mode of health care delivery, there may be differences in the perceived ease of patient-clinician communication and quality of care for telemedicine versus in-person visits, as well as variation in perceptions across patient subgroups. We examined patients' experiences with and preferences for telemedicine relative to in-person care, based on their most recent visit. Methods: We conducted a survey of 2,668 adults in a large academic health care system in November 2021. The survey captured patients' reasons for their most recent visit, perceptions on patient-clinician communication and quality of care, and attitudes toward telemedicine versus in-person care. Results: Among respondents, 552 (21%) had a telemedicine visit. Patients with telemedicine and in-person visits had similar agreement on ease of patient-clinician communication and perceived quality of the visit on average. However, for individuals 65 years of age or older, men, and those not needing urgent care, telemedicine was associated with worse perceptions of patient-clinician communication (65 years of age or older: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.31-0.85; men: aOR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.31-0.81; urgent care: aOR 0.67; 95% CI, 0.49-0.91) and lower perceived quality (65 years of age or older, aOR 0.51; 95% CI, 0.30-0.86; men: 0.51; 95% CI, 0.32-0.83; urgent care: aOR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.49-0.93). Conclusion: Patient-perceived quality of care and patient-clinician communication were similar for telemedicine and in-person visits overall. However, among men, older adults, and those not seeking urgent care, patients using telemedicine had lower perceptions of patient-clinician communication and quality.

Keywords: patient satisfaction; patient-clinician communication; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Telemedicine*