MyCOPDTeam wanted to understand what members thought about telehealth. Prior to the pandemic, there wasn’t much urgency to try out telehealth services or virtual appointments, although many members were familiar with the concept. However, the spread of COVID-19 has radically limited the ability to meet in person with health care providers. As a result, people with COPD have adapted to different ways of being seen by a doctor.
We surveyed 263 members of MyCOPDTeam in the United States during this past summer about their experiences with and perceptions of telehealth — both before and after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
While just under half of MyCOPDTeam survey respondents had heard of telehealth prior to the start of the pandemic, 9 in 10 were familiar with it as of summer 2020. In fact, 47 percent of those surveyed tried telehealth between March and July.
Roughly half (52 percent) said they are likely to use telehealth services again. Additionally, two-thirds of those who have tried telehealth since the pandemic began said they are comfortable using it.
People tend to be skeptical about using telehealth until they have tried it. Once they have, they are more likely to see its advantages. For example, among those surveyed who have tried telehealth:
Of course, in-person appointments have some clear advantages. MyCOPDTeam members believe in-person appointments are better than telehealth appointments for comprehensive exams. Almost all think that in-person appointments provide a more thorough examination than telehealth. Additionally, many also think in-person appointments are more personal.
MyCOPDTeam members largely reported seeing doctors they already know through telehealth. Their telehealth appointments were with specialists (32 percent), primary care physicians (35 percent), and both specialists and primary care doctors (33 percent). The top reasons for the appointments were ongoing care and monitoring of an existing condition or illness.
Generally, MyCOPDTeam members were satisfied with their experience with virtual appointments. Satisfaction was slightly higher for primary care doctor visits (71 percent) than specialist visits (62 percent).
One MyCOPDTeam member hopes to be able to use telehealth for pulmonary rehabilitation. “Found an online pulmonary rehab telemedicine which seems cool. I’m waiting to have my doctor say if it’s OK to join. I need help with my COPD.”
Another wrote that, while they can do some meetings with a doctor, not everything can be done through telehealth appointments. “I see my lung doctor virtually, although I will have to go in person soon for a breathing test.”
As always, we’re sharing the findings of our research with the MyCOPDTeam community. You can see highlights of the results in the slides below.
Have you tried online doctors’ appointments? Do you want to share your telehealth experience? Leave a comment below or start a conversation on MyCOPDTeam.