Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Q Reviews Survey Finds Patient Satisfaction With Telemedicine Is Equal to In-Person Appointments

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Q Reviews Survey Finds Patient Satisfaction With Telemedicine Is Equal to In-Person Appointments

While telemedicine is not a new practice, it did see unprecedented growth during the COVID-19 pandemic as the public was encouraged to limit in-person contact as much as possible. But even now, with the pandemic more under control and social distancing guidelines relaxed, telehealth appointments remain far more common than they were pre-pandemic. For patients without reliable access to transportation, or who simply have busy schedules, telemedicine is an especially invaluable means to receive care.

Many healthcare organizations, however, worry about whether patient satisfaction with telemedicine is lower than it would be for in-person appointments — and whether the quality of care patients receive in virtual appointments is just as high.

That’s exactly what Memorial Sloan Kettering’s radiation oncology department set out to find in a recent patient satisfaction survey on telemedicine. Ultimately, they found no significant difference in patient satisfaction or quality between the two appointment types.

Results of the MSK Patient Satisfaction Survey on Telemedicine

Using Q Reviews’ Q Connect patient engagement solution, Memorial Sloan Kettering distributed links to a patient satisfaction survey on telemedicine via text message. Even without any incentives, almost 3,000 patients responded to those surveys.

With ages ranging from 19 years old to 91 years old, responses came in across all different age groups, demonstrating that even seniors were willing to provide feedback via digital technology. Furthermore, Memorial Sloan Kettering received responses from different racial and ethnic groups, diagnoses, and prognoses, allowing them to draw meaningful conclusions about patient satisfaction with telemedicine across distinct demographics.

The vast majority of patients noticed no difference in the quality of their care between in-person and virtual appointments. And even though 34% of participants worried that their cancer care would be negatively impacted by the pandemic, just 8% had doubts that their cancer would be successfully treated through telemedicine. Patients were even able to understand their treatment plan via telehealth appointments just as well, and with the same level of confidence in their physician, as they did in person.

The one significant difference Memorial Sloan Kettering did notice between the two styles of appointments was that patients appreciated how telehealth appointments didn’t require a commute to the office, as it allowed them to save time and money.

How to Offer an Excellent Telemedicine Experience

Of course, it’s not enough for healthcare organizations to simply offer telehealth appointments without putting thought into cultivating a high-quality experience. To ensure high patient satisfaction with telemedicine, consider the following:

  • Pre-Appointment: 
    • Send clear instructions, reminders, and FAQs to patients before their telemedicine appointment via text (or another preferred means of communication) to ensure a seamless experience
    • Allow patients to reschedule visits via text or an online scheduler — if their only way to do so is to reach out to the front office or call center, the odds that they fail to show up without advanced notice greatly increase
    • Offer a test experience so patients can try and connect to the platform before their appointment to reduce technological barriers
  • Day-Of: 
    • Offer a virtual waiting room so that patients who dial in before their providers are available know that everything is functioning properly and that they’ll be attended to momentarily
      • Go the extra mile by including links to educational content and recommending potential questions for patients to ask their provider
  • Pre-Appointment: 
    • Share a link to a patient satisfaction survey on telemedicine immediately after the appointment to gauge the quality of the experience and identify ways you can improve
    • Send patients follow-up instructions and appointment summary reports via text or another method of communication

Read More: 7 Reasons Why No-Show Appointments Occur (& What You Can Do About It)

The Bottom Line

Healthcare organizations wondering whether or not they should continue to offer telemedicine in the wake of the pandemic needn’t worry. As Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Q Reviews survey found, patient satisfaction with telemedicine equals that of in-person appointments. What’s more, virtual appointments are just as effective. For patient populations that struggle to make in-person appointments, telemedicine is especially valuable, as it ensures that they continue to receive the care that they need.

The key to a great telemedicine experience, though, is thoughtfulness. Put some effort into creating a great pre-appointment, day-of, and post-appointment experience, and you’ll be able to deliver the convenient, cost-effective, and high-quality telemedicine that today’s patients want.

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