HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE’S 2021 SCIENTIFIC CONGRESS
The use of telehealth increased significantly across the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a safer way for patients to continue care with their providers. That was also true of fertility clinics. The two abstracts below indicate provider and patient satisfaction with telehealth as a means to continue care.
A survey of clinics providing reproductive endocrinology and infertility services in 17 states found widespread use of telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic for both new patient consultations and return visits. Of the 330 clinics surveyed, 38 responded and all said they were using telehealth for patient visits. They were a mix of private, university-affiliated and health system-based clinics, mostly in California, New York and Illinois. The most common telehealth platform was Zoom, cited by 58 % of the clinics.
While only a few of the clinics offered telehealth services before the pandemic, more than 73% of the clinics said they were very satisfied with telehealth overall. Almost 90% said they expect to offer telehealth visits after the COVID-19 pandemic, although more than half anticipated conducting fewer telehealth visits because of logistics and patient preferences.
0-77, E. Dilday et al, TELEHEALTH PROVIDER EXPERIENCE IN REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGY AND INFERTILITY CLINICS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND BEYOND
Patients Satisfied With Telehealth
A survey of 91 patients who had telehealth visits at Washington University’s Reproductive Endocrinologic Clinic in March-April 2021 revealed widespread satisfaction with the virtual visits, with more than 92% of the respondents saying they would use telehealth services again.
Not only did the virtual visits improve access to care during the pandemic (for 82% of those surveyed), it also saved travel time. The mean distance between home and the clinic for those responding to the survey was 76 miles. However, the researchers noted there was no difference in patient preference for in-person versus telehealth visits depending on their distance from the clinic, prompting the researchers to conclude that patients were satisfied with telemedicine for reasons other than travel distance.
Given the widespread acceptance of telehealth to provide quality care at times when physical exams are not necessary, the authors call for continued reimbursement by insurance companies after the pandemic is over.
O-78, K. Anderson et al, PATIENT SATISFACTION WITH TELEMEDICINE VISITS FOR REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGY PATIENTS IN THE ERA OF COVID-19