Background: The capacity to deliver essential health services has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to lockdown restrictions. Telemedicine provides a safe, efficient, and effective alternative that addresses the needs of patients and the health system. However, there remain implementation challenges and barriers to patient adoption in resource-limited settings as in the Philippines. This mixed methods study aimed to describe patient perspectives and experiences with telemedicine services, and explore the factors that influence telemedicine use and satisfaction. Methods: An online survey consisting of items adapted from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Clinician & Group Adult Visit Survey 4.0 (beta) and the Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (TUQ) was completed by 200 participants aged 18 to 65 years residing in the Philippines. A subsample of 16 participants was interviewed to provide further insights on their experiences. We used descriptive statistics to analyze survey data and thematically analyzed data from interviews guided by the principles of grounded theory. Results: Participants were generally satisfied with telemedicine, and found it to be an efficient and convenient means of receiving healthcare. About 3 in 5 perceived telemedicine as affordable, with some finding telemedicine costs to be high and comparable to in-person consultations. Our results suggest that participants preferred telemedicine services, especially in cases where they feel that their condition is not urgent and does not need extensive physical examination. Safety against COVID-19, privacy, accessibility, and availability of multiple communication platforms contributed to patient satisfaction with telemedicine. Negative perceptions of patients on quality of care and service related to their telemedicine provider, inherent limitations of telemedicine in the diagnosis and management of patients, perceived high costs especially for mental health conditions, and poor connectivity and other technological issues were barriers to telemedicine use and satisfaction. Conclusion: Telemedicine is viewed as a safe, efficient, and affordable alternative to receiving care. Expectations of patients on costs and outcomes need to be managed by providers to increase satisfaction. Continued adoption of telemedicine will require improvements in technology infrastructure and technical support for patients, training and performance evaluation of providers to ensure quality of care and service, better patient communication to meet patient needs, and integration of telemedicine services in remote areas that have limited access to medical services. Telemedicine, to realize its full potential, should be centered in health equity – addressing patient barriers and needs, reducing health disparities across population groups and settings, and providing quality services to all.
Noceda, A.V.G., Acierto, L.M.M., Bertiz, M. et al. Patient satisfaction with telemedicine in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed methods study. BMC Health Serv Res 23, 277 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-023-09127-x