PRP118: Learning from patients’ experiences with synchronous virtual encounters in primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Rachelle Ashcroft, PhD; Catherine Donnelly, PhD; Bridget Ryan, PhD, MSc; Simone Dahrouge, PhD; Lisa Dolovich, PharmD, BScPharm, MS; Sandeep Gill, MSc; Judith Brown, PhD


Context: The distancing measures instituted widely to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have required primary care organizations to rapidly adopt synchronous virtual care telephone and video appointments to continue delivering clinical care. Practices shifted from the usual face-to-face encounters to this virtual approach without significant prior experience or training in that delivery medium. Orientation to delivering virtual care was offered subsequently and was based on little evidence of that approach for primary care services. Practices will likely never fully return to their prior approach to care delivery and an element of virtual care will likely persist beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We undertook a study to understand the patient experience in these encounters to inform recommendations for the application of virtual care post-COVID. Study Design: In partnership with stakeholders (including patients and health planners), we are conducting a concurrent mixed-methods: 1) population-wide survey, and 2) qualitative interviews with 50 patients who have had synchronous virtual care appointments in primary care since the onset of COVID-19. Five guiding dimensions of patient experience that are underpinning the study evaluation are: i) access, ii) patient-provider exchanges, iii) privacy and confidentiality, iv) whole person care, and v) perceived quality of care. Setting: Ontario, Canada; an optimal location to investigate patient experiences of virtual care during COVID-19 across organizational models that vary in their provider remuneration and their interprofessional structure. Population Studied: Patients who have had at least one synchronous virtual care appointment with a primary healthcare provider (inclusive of family physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, social workers, and other primary healthcare providers). We are seeking to include participants who are patients who have sought primary care for a broad range of care issues including newly emergent issues as well as chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes, COPD, mental health).Conclusions: Understanding patients’ experiences with virtual care appointments during COVID-19 is indispensable for inform policy and decision-makers about the value-added by virtual care, types of care activities best suited for virtual care appointments, as well any existing barriers that may need to be mitigated to optimize the patient’s experience with virtual care appointments.
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Marcia Dailey 11/15/2020

It is good to see that patient advisory was partenered in the development of this study.

Liz Sturgiss 11/20/2020

Hi Rachelle - great to see this study! Will you recruit for interviews from your survey sample? Which measures did you decide to use for your survey? Looking forward to seeing what you discover

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