Patient Perspectives of Inpatient Telemedicine During COVID-19: A Qualitative Assessment.
JMIR formative research
Telemedicine has been adopted in the inpatient setting to facilitate clinical interactions between on-site clinicians and isolated hospitalized patients. Such remote interactions have the potential to reduce pathogen exposure and use of personal protective equipment but may also pose new safety concerns given prior evidence that isolated patients can receive suboptimal care. Formal evaluations into the use and practical acceptance of inpatient telemedicine amongst hospitalized patients are lacking.We aimed to evaluate the experience of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 with inpatient telemedicine introduced as an infection control measure during the pandemic.We conducted a qualitative evaluation in a COVID-19 designated non-intensive care hospital unit at a large academic health center (Stanford Health Care) October 2020 through January 2021. Semi-structured qualitative interviews focused on patient experience, impact on quality of care, communication, and mental health. Purposive sampling were used to recruit participants represent-ing diversity across varying demographics until thematic saturation was reached. Interview transcripts were qualitatively analyzed using an inductive-deductive approach.Interviews with 20 hospitalized patients suggested non-emergency clinical care and bridging to in-person care comprised the majority of inpatient telemedicine use. Nurses were reported to enter the room and call on the tablet far more frequently than physicians, who typically entered the room at least daily. Patients reported broad acceptance of the technology, citing improved convenience and reduced anxiety but preferred in-person care where possible. Quality of care was believed to be similar to in-person care with the exception of a few patients who wanted more frequent in-person examinations. Ongoing challenges included low volume, shifting tablet location, and inconsistent verbal introductions from the clinical team.Patient experiences with in-patient telemedicine were largely favorable. Although most patients ex-pressed a preference for in-person care, telemedicine was acceptable given the circumstances asso-ciated with COVID-19. Technical and care team use improvements may enhance acceptability. Fur-ther evaluation is needed to understand the impact of inpatient telemedicine and the optimal balance between in-person and virtual care in the hospital setting.
View details for DOI 10.2196/32933
View details for PubMedID 35147510