HumanInsight Comparison of willingness and preference for genetic counseling via telemedicine: before vs. during the COVID-19 pandemic
J Community Genet. 2022 Jul 7. doi: 10.1007/s12687-022-00598-9. Online ahead of print.
The COVID-19 pandemic required genetic counseling services, like most outpatient healthcare, to rapidly adopt a telemedicine model. Understanding the trends in patients' preferences for telemedicine relative to in-person service delivery both before and after the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic may aid in navigating how best to integrate telemedicine in a post-COVID-19 era. Our study explored how respondents' willingness to use, and preference for, telemedicine differed from before to after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents included patients, or their parent/guardian, seen in a general medical genetics clinic in 2018, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents were surveyed regarding their willingness to use telemedicine, preference for telemedicine relative to in-person care, and the influence of various factors. Among 69 pre-COVID-19 and 40 current-COVID-19 respondents, there was no shift in willingness to use, or preference for, telemedicine across these time periods. About half of respondents (50.6%) preferred telemedicine visits for the future. Of the 49.4% who preferred in-person visits, 79.1% were still willing to have visits via telemedicine. Predictors of these preferences included comfort with technology and prioritization of convenience of location. This study suggests that a hybrid care model, utilizing telemedicine and in-person service delivery, may be most appropriate to meet the needs of the diverse patients served. Concern for COVID-19 was not found to predict willingness or preference, suggesting that our findings may be generalizable in post-pandemic contexts.
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