09 Dec Patients and Providers Find Telemedicine An Effective Tool
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mirna Becevic, PhD, MHA
Assistant Research Professor of Telemedicine
University of Missouri – Department of Dermatology
Missouri Telehealth Network
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Becevic: The Missouri Telehealth Network (MTN) at the University of Missouri has been providing outpatient clinical services to rural Missourians since 1995. Over 29 specialties and subspecialties have been utilized to assist patients in 69 counties. We have learned a lot along the way, what works well and what does not, in terms of telehealth protocols, trainings, best practices, etc.
The MTN holds bi-annual two day training conference for new sites to share these experiences and provide hands-on training in telemedicine. Our main goal with this study was to reach all telehealth users on the Missouri Telehealth Network (patients, providers, and telehealth coordinators-patient presenters) and learn about their perceptions of and opinions regarding this form of health care delivery. We also wanted to evaluate the overall accessibility and discernment of the MTN by telehealth coordinators, since we felt that they might need to have continuous support in order to successfully manage their telehealth programs.
Our main findings indicated that all three surveyed groups had high satisfaction with telemedicine. Patients were confident in their doctors’ medical skills, and lack of physical contact was not viewed as a barrier. Telehealth providers thought telehealth was an effective tool for providing care at a distance, but indicated that they did not prefer telehealth over in-person visits.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: The biggest barrier to telemedicine is provider buy-in and fear that their patients would not accept this technology. However, it’s easy to forget that video-conferencing has become an integral part of our lives – Facetime and Skype have made it easy and affordable for anyone to video chat with their loved ones. Health care is no different, patients want convenient and affordable access to care, and if they live far from their physicians, that access includes telehealth.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Future research should include concordance study between in-person and telehealth visits. It would also be important to include different types of organizations providing telehealth services. University of Missouri is a large academic health care center, and future research should include direct-to-consumer telehealth companies as well.
In addition, there is very little data, if any, showing how providing specialty treatment and management in-person compares to telehealth.
Mirna Becevic, Suzanne Boren, Rachel Mutrux, Zalak Shah, Sruti Banerjee. User Satisfaction With Telehealth. The Health Care Manager, 2015; 34 (4): 337 DOI: 1097/HCM.0000000000000081
Mirna Becevic, PhD, MHA (2015). Patients and Providers Find Telemedicine An Effective Tool