Patients With PD Continue to Think Highly of Telehealth Services, Survey Finds

Patients with Parkinson disease (PD) were asked their opinions about which medical services they preferred to use via telehealth and which might be better suited to in-person care.

A recently published paper explored what patients with Parkinson disease (PD) think of telehealth services, as well as how they use such services.

Across health care, telehealth has been widely adopted during the COVID-2019 pandemic.

A previous survey conducted by the Parkinson's Foundation and the Columbia University Parkinson's Disease Center of Excellence saw an increase of telehealth utilization from 9.7% before the pandemic to 63.5% in June 2020.

Although pandemic restrictions are easing and vaccinations becoming more widespread, the researchers, writing in Movement Disorders, said they conducted the latest survey to understand under which circumstances patients might continue to find telehealth services useful.

In 2021, the organizations sent a new survey to the same group of patients, as well as those who were new to the organizations between 2020 and 2021. In total, the anonymous survey was sent to 16,026 email addresses; 1163 responses were received, and 944 complete responses were analyzed.

Of the 944 respondents, the mean age was 71.5 years and the mean disease duration was 7 years.

The majority of respondents—90.2%—were aware of telehealth services, and 82.8% used the service.

Between April 2020 to April 2021, in-person visits were the most commonly used medical service, followed by telehealth appointments over either video or telephone. More than 40% of respondents reported that video or phone telehealth services were equally or more satisfying than in-person visits across all types of services.

By service, the highest satisfaction was seen in speech-language pathology (SLP) appointments (78.8%; 52/66) followed by mental health services (69.2%; 95/137).

Patients reported that visits conducted over video were comparable in quality to in-person visits, while visits conducted via telephone were perceived to be lower in quality than in-person visits.

Telehealth care was clearly preferred to not receiving care at all.

Respondents were also asked about specific factors that influenced their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Patients liked the reduced travel time, ease and convenience, and having the option for follow-up appointments for minor issues. However, patients also suggested limiting the use of telehealth to less clinically complicated visits.

Telehealth visits were perceived as most useful in SLP, mental health, and relatively straightforward follow-up visits.

The researchers said the findings about the use of telehealth in SLP were notable, "given that disorders of speech and swallowing in PD result in significant decrements to health and quality of life but have also been found to be amenable to improvements with targeted SLP intervention."

They pointed out that other research has found found SLP delivered via telehealth is "feasible and effiacious." Even swallowing evaluation and treatment may be possible via telehealth, they said.

One limitation in the study is the low response rate of the survey. In addition, most of the respondents were White, and so findings might not be generalizable to more diverse populations.

Reference

Xu Y, Feeney MP, Surface M, et al. Attitudes toward telehealth services among people living with Parkinson's disease: a survey study. Mov Disord.
Published online March 26, 2022. doi:10.1002/mds.28990