Many medical practices turned to telemedicine when the pandemic shut down the economy last spring, but what do dermatology patients think about the socially distant approach?
The majority of patients, 55%, at one dermatology clinic agreed that teledermatology “was an adequate substitute for an in-person appointment” and 80% said that they would consider another such visit in the future, according to a survey conducted at George Washington University in Washington.
Although “telehealth is not without its drawbacks … it is clear from this study that the majority of patients feel positively towards teledermatology during the COVID-19 pandemic and [believe it] can be a suitable alternative for patients who are unable to meet with their providers in person,” Samuel Yeroushalmi, Sarah H. Millan, and associates at the university said in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology).
When presented with a set of statements about the telehealth experience, the 168 survey respondents largely agreed that the overall appointment was satisfactory (80.8%), that minimal barriers were present (78.1%), and that the quality of care was similar to an in-person visit (62.5%), the investigators said.
Other factors, however, were not as well supported. Less than half (47.2%) of the respondents agreed that the telehealth appointments were more cost effective, and just over half (54.7%) agreed that they provided an adequate skin exam, they reported.
Of the set of 14 statements given to the patients – all of whom had at least one telehealth visit with the GW clinic between March 2 and June 17, 2020 – the one on the adequacy of the skin exam provided the largest share of disagreement at 27.1%, Mr. Yeroushalmi and Ms. Millan, medical students at the university and coauthors.
The lack of physical touch was mentioned most often (26.8%) when respondents were asked about their reasons for disliking telehealth visits, followed by the feeling that they had received an inadequate assessment (15.7%), they said.
Despite these drawbacks, “the convenience and efficacy of telehealth as well as its ability to maintain separation while social distancing recommendations are in place make it an effective way for dermatologists to continue to provide quality and safe care during the pandemics as well as during potential future public health crises,” the investigators concluded.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.