Publication date: Sep 19, 2023
Patient perceptions of primary care telephone and video telemedicine and whether COVID-19 pandemic-related telemedicine exposure shifted patients’ visit preference is unknown. We examined patient surveys to understand the health care experience of patients seeking primary care through telemedicine and how patients expected their preferences to shift as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an integrated delivery system that shifted to a “telemedicine-first” health care model during the COVID-19 pandemic, we sampled monthly and collected 1000 surveys from adults with primary care telemedicine visits scheduled through the online patient portal between 3/16/2020 and 10/31/2020. Participants reported their preferred primary care visit modality (telephone, video, or in-person visits) across 3 time points: before, during and (hypothetically) after the COVID-19 pandemic, and reported their general assessment of primary care visits during the pandemic. The majority of participants preferred in-person visits before (69%) and after the COVID-19 pandemic (57%). However, most participants reported a preference for telemedicine visits during the pandemic and continue to prefer telemedicine visits at a 12% higher rate post-pandemic. Many participants (63%) expressed interest in using telemedicine at least some of the time. Among participants reporting a recent telemedicine visit, 85% agreed that the visit addressed their health needs. As primary care visit modality preferences continue to evolve, patients anticipate that they will continue to prefer telemedicine visits, both video and telephone, at an increased rate than before the COVID-19 pandemic.