As a result of coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the health services in the Loddon Mallee Region rapidly moved the majority of in-person appointments to telephone and video appointments (also known as Telehealth). Loddon Mallee Integrated Cancer Service (LMICS) conducted telephone surveys with 55 new and review patients who attended video appointments between April and June 2020 and interviewed 9 oncologists from the Bendigo Health.
The mean age of the patients was 66 and the majority (63%) were female. Minitab and Microsoft Excel were used for data analysis
Most patients (74%) were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the quality of their video appointment. Sixty-one per cent of participants did not face any technical issues (disconnection, poor connection, quality of the audio/video) during the consultation. 75%of patients were happy to continue with some video appointments in the future. Twenty-five per cent would accept a combination of Video and face to face appointments, and 13% preferred face to face appointments only. Patients disliked the lack of face to face contact with the doctor (25%); technical issues (24%) and no physical examination (13%). There was no significant difference in the satisfaction ratings between gender or by the tumour stream. Patients who faced technical problems were less satisfied overall ( p-value of <0.05).
Six of the nine oncologists mentioned they faced technical issues during the consultation, mainly unstable connection. Oncologists felt the following would improve the quality of Video consultations: Clinician’s & patient’s confidence with the technology, more IT support, management of the waiting room, and further training.
This study shows that the majority of participants are comfortable with Video consultations. Addressing the technical issues, a moderator managing the waiting room and provision of training to the oncologist may enhance the quality of video consultations & satisfaction rating.