HumanInsight Telehealth Perceptions Among US Immigrant Patients at an Academic Internal Medicine Practice: Cross-sectional Study
JMIR Hum Factors. 2022 Aug 10;9(3):e36069. doi: 10.2196/36069.
BACKGROUND: The use of telemedicine has increased dramatically through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although data are available about patient satisfaction with telemedicine, little is known about immigrant patients' experience.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to investigate patients' experiences with telehealth compared to in- person visits between immigrants and nonimmigrants. We wanted to identify and describe next visit preferences within the Farmington University of Connecticut Internal Medicine practice to ultimately guide suggestions for more equitable use and accessibility of visit options.
METHODS: A total of 270 patients including 122 immigrants and 148 nonimmigrants were seen by 4 Internal Medicine providers in an in-person (n=132) or telemedicine (n=138) university practice setting. Patients were queried between February and April 2021, using an adaptation of a previously validated patient satisfaction survey that contained standard questions developed by the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Program. Patients seen via in-person visits completed a paper copy of the survey. The same survey was administered by a follow-up phone call for telemedicine visits. Patients surveyed spoke English, Spanish, or Arabic and were surveyed in their preferred language. For televisits, the same survey was read to the patient by a certified translator. The survey consisted of 10 questions on a Likert scale of 1-5. Of them, 9 questions assessed patient satisfaction under the categories of access to care, interpersonal interaction, and quality of care. An additional question asked patients to describe and explain the reasons behind next visit preferences. Survey question responses were compared by paired t tests.
RESULTS: Across both immigrant and nonimmigrant patient populations, satisfaction with perceived quality of care was high, regardless of visit type (P=.80, P=.60 for televisits and P=.76, P=.37 for in-person visits). During televisits, immigrants were more likely to feel providers spent sufficient time with them (P<.001). Different perceptions were noted among nonimmigrant patients. Nonimmigrants tended to perceive more provider time during in-person visits (P=.006). When asked to comment on reasons behind next televisit preference, nonimmigrant patients prioritized convenience, whereas immigrants noted not having to navigate office logistics. For those who chose in-person visits, both groups prioritized the need for a physical exam.
CONCLUSIONS: Although satisfaction was high for both telemedicine and in-person visits across immigrant and nonimmigrant populations, significant differences in patient priorities were identified. Immigrants found televisits desirable because they felt they spent more time with providers and were able to avoid additional office logistics that are often challenging barriers for non-English speakers. This suggests opportunities to use information technology to provide cultural and language-appropriate information throughout immigrants' in-person and telemedicine visit experience. A focus on diminishing these barriers will help reduce health care inequities among immigrant patients.
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