Telephone vs. Video Visits During COVID-19: Safety-Net Provider Perspectives

Ji Eun Chang, Zoe Lindenfeld, Stephanie L. Albert, Rachel Massar, Donna Shelley, Lorraine Kwok, Kayla Fennelly, Carolyn A. Berry
2021 Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine  
To review the frequency as well as the pros and cons of telephone and video-enabled telemedicine during the first 9 months of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as experienced by safety net providers across New York State (NYS). Analysis of visits to 36 community health centers (CHCs) in NYS by modality (telephone vs video) from February to November 2020. Semi-structured interviews with 25 primary care, behavioral health, and pediatric providers from 8 CHCs. In the week following
more » ... he NYS stay-at-home order, video and telephone visits rose from 3.4 and 0% of total visits to 14.9 and 22.3%. At its peak, more than 60% of visits were conducted via telemedicine (April 2020) before tapering off to about 30% of visits (August 2020). Providers expressed a strong preference for video visits, particularly for situations when visual assessments were needed. Yet, more visits were conducted over telephone than video at all points throughout the pandemic. Video-specific advantages included enhanced ability to engage patients and use of visual cues to get a comprehensive look into the patient's life, including social supports, hygiene, and medication adherence. Telephone presented unique benefits, including greater privacy, feasibility, and ease of use that make it critical to engage with key populations and as a backup for when video was not an option. Despite challenges, providers reported positive experiences delivering care remotely using both telephone and video during the COVID-19 pandemic and believe both modalities are critical for enabling access to care in the safety net.
doi:10.3122/jabfm.2021.06.210186 pmid:34772766 fatcat:wn6t3xc3svhfhl35cxieuc5yzm