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Virtual prenatal visits associated with high measures of patient experience and satisfaction among average-risk patients: a prospective cohort study

HumanInsight Virtual prenatal visits associated with high measures of patient experience and satisfaction among average-risk patients: a prospective cohort study

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2023 Apr 6;23(1):234. doi: 10.1186/s12884-023-05421-y.


BACKGROUND: Virtual visits have the potential to decrease barriers to prenatal care stemming from transportation, work, and childcare concerns. However, data regarding patient experience and satisfaction with virtual visits remain limited in obstetrics. To address this gap, we explore average-risk pregnant women's experiences with virtual visits and compare satisfaction with virtual vs. in-person visits as a secondary aim.

METHODS: In this IRB-approved, prospective cohort study, we surveyed pregnant women after their first virtual visit between October 7, 2019 and March 20, 2020. Using heterogeneous purposive sampling, we identified a subset of respondents with diverse experiences and opinions for interviews. For comparison, Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) satisfaction data were collected after in-person visits during the study timeframe from a control cohort with the same prenatal providers. Logistic regression controlling for age, previous pregnancies, and prior live births compared satisfaction data between virtual and in-person visits. Other quantitative survey data were analyzed through descriptive statistics. Free text survey responses and interview data were analyzed using content analysis.

RESULTS: Ninety five percent (n = 165/174) of surveys and 90% (n = 18/20) of interviews were completed. Most participants were Caucasian, married, and of middle to high income. 69% (114/165) agreed that their virtual appointment was as good as in-person; only 13% (21/165) disagreed. Almost all (148/165, 90%) would make another virtual appointment. Qualitative data highlighted ease of access, comparable provider-patient communication, confidence in care quality, and positive remote monitoring experiences. Recognizing these advantages but also inherent limitations, interviews emphasized interspersing telemedicine with in-person prenatal encounters. CAHPS responses after in-person visits were available for 60 patients. Logistic regression revealed no significant difference in three measures of satisfaction (p = 0.16, 0.09, 0.13) between virtual and in-person visits.

CONCLUSIONS: In an average-risk population, virtual prenatal visits provide a patient-centered alternative to traditional in-person encounters with high measures of patient experience and no significant difference in satisfaction. Obstetric providers should explore telemedicine to improve access - and, during the ongoing pandemic, to minimize exposures - using patients' experiences for guidance. More research is needed regarding virtual visits' medical quality, integration into prenatal schedules, and provision of equitable care for diverse populations.

PMID:37024808 | DOI:10.1186/s12884-023-05421-y

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