Introduction: Despite unprecedented telehealth adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic, its post-pandemic preservation remains uncertain. Understanding key stakeholders’ perspectives on telehealth during the pandemic can inform evidence-based policies and promote effective, sustainable virtual-based care.

Methods: Patients and providers who completed telehealth visits during the early pandemic in primary care, subspecialty, and surgical outpatient clinics at a large community-based academic medical center in New England were surveyed via telephone interviews or electronic surveys. Thematic analyses of qualitative comments further characterized experiences.

Results: Of 1,729 eligible patients called, 969 were contacted and 778 participated (response rate 80.3% among contacted patients). Among 753 eligible providers, 348 participated (response rate 46.2%). Patients were predominantly female (59.1%), White/Caucasian (94.9%), and 65 years or older (58.8%). Most patients and providers reported overall satisfaction (91.2% and 84.5%, respectively) and felt their visit supported a meaningful patient-provider connection (92.2% and 93.9%, respectively) and facilitated careful listening (95.4 and 97.2%, respectively). Less than half (48.0%) of providers who conducted video visits felt video was necessary to achieve visit goals; however, patients were more satisfied with video than telephone-only visits (94.4% vs. 88.4%, p=.0097). Patients conducting telephone-only visits were older (median age 72 years, IQR 63-80; vs. 63 years, IQR 50-73; p=0.001). Thematic analyses supported the quantitative findings.

Conclusion: Telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic addressed healthcare needs in a highly satisfying and patient-centered manner, though older patients may be at risk of digital disparities. Policies must support equitable access to telephonic and video-based care.

Supplementary Tables (Lahey Journal).docx (30 kB)
Tables 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a