“Telemedicine can be broadly defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to facilitate health care services, with a common form being virtual care. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine was used primarily to bridge the gap for rural or remote locations where there is lack of transport, mobility, or funding. While there has been increasing patient demand for telemedicine, many barriers existed with regard to governance of compensation mechanisms, licensure restrictions, and technology infrastructure across health care platforms and facilities. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telemedicine was expanded due to the necessity to limit vectors of disease spread. Primary care has been significantly impacted by this change. In-person visits have been limited to those deemed necessary, and telemedicine has been widely used as a tool to provide patient care while maintaining social distancing. Throughout this rapid period of change, there has been limited literature on patient perceptions of their quality of care with the widespread use of telemedicine. In this study, we aimed to identify the proportion of patients who received telemedicine versus in-person appointments during the pandemic, and the number who required in-person follow-up after a phone consultation. In addition, we aimed to identify patient perceptions of their health care experience via telemedicine versus an in-person appointment. With this information, in conjunction with current technological capabilities of health care delivery, we aim to inform the projected need for telemedicine and identify potential areas of improvement during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. From a policy and technology perspective, we believe this information could help improve the delivery of health care, both locally and remotely, thereby improving access to primary care across Canada.”

Learn more on Evaluating patient perceptions of quality of care through telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic via BCMJ.

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