Session Title: Health Services Research
Session Type: Abstract Submissions (ACR)
To assess patient satisfaction with the rheumatology telemedicine service provided to a rural town in northern Australia.
A prospective, questionnaire-based exploratory study of patients seen in Mount Isa rheumatology telemedicine clinics during 2012 was done. Control groups included patients travelling over 3 hours to be seen face-to-face in Townsville, and patients seen face-to-face in Mount Isa. A 5-point Likert scale was used to explore themes of communication, confidentiality, physical examination, rapport, medication safety and access.
This study evaluated 107 rheumatology outpatients (49 telemedicine, 46 face-to-face Townsville, 12 face-to-face Mount Isa). Patients seen in Mount Isa travelled a median of 3km for telemedicine and 5km for face-to-face appointments. The face-to-face Townsville control group travelled a median of 354km. New patients comprised 14% of consultations. Satisfaction with themes related to quality-of-care was high with over 90% selecting ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to these questions. Comparing models of care, there were no significant differences in the rates of those selecting ‘strongly agree’ across questions, apart from a single question related to rapport which favoured the Mount Isa face-to-face model (p=0.018). When asked whether they would rather travel to Townsville than participate in a telemedicine consultation, 63% of patients selected ‘disagree’ (17%) or ‘strongly disagree’ (46%).
These results suggest that patients are satisfied with a rheumatology telemedicine service, and may prefer this alternative to extensive travelling. Evaluation in other settings is recommended before generalizing this finding.
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ACR Meeting Abstracts - https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/satisfaction-with-rural-rheumatology-telehealth-service/