Patient and Provider Experiences and Views on the Use of Telehealth in Genetics Clinics in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Julia M. Martinez, Randi E. Zinberg, George A. Diaz, Hetanshi Naik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic necessitated a mass transition in genetics clinics nationwide from in-person care to virtual care through telehealth. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was limited research on the use of telehealth in genetics specialties. Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique opportunity to study this emerging mode of care delivery in the setting of genetics clinics. This study described the scope of telehealth use in genetics clinics nationally and determined how COVID-19 influenced patients’ decisions regarding their genetic care. Methods: Two anonymous surveys for patients and providers were developed. The patient survey was offered online to all genetics patients seen through telehealth at a Manhattan-based practice between March and December 2020. The provider survey was distributed through several listservs to genetics providers nationwide. Results: Patients (n = 242) and providers (n = 150) responded. Telehealth was used in all specialty genetics clinics for both initial and follow-up visits. Telehealth was both effective and satisfactory to patients for both visit types and across specialties; however, Asian and Hispanic/Latino patients had significantly lower mean satisfaction scores compared with White patients (p = 0.03 and 0.04, respectively). Patients appreciated telehealth for its convenience and to avoid COVID-19 exposure. Providers across specialties and provider types preferred telehealth for follow-up rather than initial visits. Several clinic initiatives related to telehealth were identified. Discussion: Telehealth was generally well received by both patients and providers, and is expected to become permanent option in genetics clinics. Further studies are needed to identify barriers to accessing telehealth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-125
Number of pages8
JournalTelemedicine Journal and e-Health
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • genetic counseling
  • pandemic
  • telegenetics
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

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