2022

Teleheath doctor visits rated favorably by patients during the pandemic


UCLA study led by Dr. Ron D. Hays finds patient experience with telehealth appointments as positive as traditional face-to-face meetings.

Telehealth doctor video call on computer

A survey of almost 60,000 Americans who had in-person or virtual telehealth appointments with a doctor in 2020 found that patients rated their experiences with virtual visits the same or even slightly better than seeing a doctor in person.

“We found that patient experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a rapid increase in the use of telehealth, was at least as good as or better than that prior to the onset of the pandemic,” said Dr. Ron D. Hays, distinguished professor of medicine in the UCLA Division of General Internal Medicine and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management. “Our analysis provides further evidence that telehealth visits can result in positive patient experiences.”

The research article —“Patient Experience with In-Person and Telehealth Visits Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic at a Large Integrated Health System in the United States” — was co-authored by Hays and Dr. Samuel A. Skootsky, with the Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In some cases, patients may actually prefer the virtual telehealth type of visit, Skootsky noted.

“The persistence of telehealth visits — even as total visits returned to normal in this health system — suggests that virtual care is addressing meaningful patient needs,” he said.

The researchers surveyed 58,509 adult patients in a large integrated health system on the West Coast of the United States, with 13,928 primary care and 44,581 specialty physician visits at 197 clinics. The study found that:

  • Patient experience with telehealth visits was as positive as or more positive than that with traditional office-based visits.
  • Doctor communication on televideo visits was viewed as slightly more positive than that of in-office or phone visits.
  • Televideo visits were also slightly more positive than in-office visits for care coordination, overall rating of the doctor, and willingness to recommend to family and friends.
  • Office staff were viewed less positively on the phone than televideo or in-office visits.
  • Patient experience was similar before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., on a 0–100 possible range with a higher score being better, doctor communication was 94.4 before and 94.9 during).

The authors do have some caveats: Although participating patients were randomly selected to participate in the survey, their willingness to participate did involve self-selection. In addition, the overall response rate was only 28%.

However, given the pressure the pandemic has put on both the public and the healthcare system, especially in 2020 before vaccines were widely available, the results suggest findings that are worth consideration for healthcare planning, even outside of the crisis, the authors said.

“Access to care may have been particularly important to patients during this study period, before widespread vaccination of the public began,” Skootsky said. “In addition, and perhaps paradoxically, we found that doctor communication and global ratings of the doctor were slightly better for televideo visits. This may reflect a more focused and intimate experience of care.”

The research also suggests that telehealth may be an especially useful method for increasing access to medical care for underserved or geographically isolated populations, Hays said.

“Telehealth is often promoted to increase access to care, and these results suggest that offering telehealth services to patients as part of an overall care model is well received by patients,” Hays said. “We believe that government and commercial health plans should continue to both allow and embrace telehealth services – if delivered thoughtfully, they can get better care to more people, and quite possibly – at lower costs, to the healthcare system and the patients.”

Methods: The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) Clinician and Group Survey 3.0 was administered using mixed mode (interactive voice response, phone, and web) to 58,509 adult patients in a large integrated health system on the west coast of the United States, with 13,928 primary care and 44,581 specialty physician visits at 197 clinics.

Questions assessed doctor communication, care coordination, access, and office staff; a 0–10 overall rating of the doctor; and a question about whether the patient would recommend the doctor to family and friends. Each item was coded on a 0–100 possible range, with a higher score representing better patient experience. All scores are on the same 0–100 possible range.

Funding: This work was supported by a cooperative agreement from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (U18 HS025920). The assistance of the UCLA Health Office of Health Informatics and Analytics is greatly appreciated.

Citation: Hays, R.D., Skootsky, S.A. “Patient Experience with In-Person and Telehealth Visits Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic at a Large Integrated Health System in the United States.” Journal of General Internal Medicinehttps://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-021-07196-4


The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.

Faculty Referenced by this Article

Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Gordon headshot
Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Balgrosky headshot
Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Davidson - headshop
Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
silhoette
Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Paul Fu, Jr.
Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Thomas Priselac
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Image of Dr. Susan Ettner
Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Robert Kaplan
Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Xi Zhu
Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Roshan Bastani Headshot
Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Beth Glenn
Beth Glenn
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile

Related Content

CHPR_2024_firearms_suiciderisk_thumbnail
April 30, 2024
Access to firearms for Californians aged 15–24 associated with increased suicide risk
Source: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Read Full Article
Dr._Ying-Ying_Meng
April 16, 2024
In memoriam: Dr. Ying-Ying Meng, 68, scholar of environmental health and director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
Source: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Read Full Article