Patient perceptions about virtual clinical consultations during current COVID-19 pandemic: A multi-city survey across India
Keywords:Online Consultation, Virtual Consultation, Teleconsultation, COVID-19
Introduction: COVID-19 has prevented many patients from accessing health care through traditional face-to-face clinic visits. Consequently, online consultations have gained popularity. Aim: To explore patient perceptions regarding virtual consultations. Methods: A voluntary online survey using a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions was administered to patients across selected cities in India using a social media platform. Responses were used to explore the characteristics of users, perceived advantages and disadvantages of online consultations and patient satisfaction. Results: There were 679 respondents (M 52.4%: F 47.6%) that had consulted doctors online; 91.8% were from 8 major metro cities. Interestingly, over 80% had never sought online consultation before the COVID-19 pandemic. 46% consultations were via videocalls, 26% through WhatsApp and 21% via telephone calls. The main advantages of online consultations cited by patients included a lower risk of infection (78.8%), reduced waiting time (56.8%) and travel time (58.3%). The main disadvantages included a lack of physical examination (73.4%), a perception that this was not as satisfying as a face-to face consultation (37.9%) and difficulty in communication (24.5%). 78.6% patients rated their online consultations as either good or very good. However, given the choice, almost two-thirds felt they would still prefer face-face consultations. Conclusion: High levels of satisfaction from this survey suggests that teleconsultation has the potential to become a complementary method to access clinical care even after restrictions from the pandemic cease. The disadvantages of online consultations could be mitigated through evolving technologies such as digital stethoscopes and improvement in communication tools.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Indian Journal of Community Health
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.