E.A.L. CHEW1, S.Y. TAN1, P.S.S. LEE1, H.L. KOH1, S.K. ONG1, Y.Y. DING2, E.S. LEE1
NHG Polyclinics1, Tan Tock Seng Hospital2
Video consultations (VCs) have risen steeply during the COVID-19 pandemic. National Healthcare Group Polyclinics initiated VCs to substitute some in-person chronic care visits. This study elicited the views of older adults with multimorbidity about their first VC.
Seventeen patients with multimorbidity aged 60 years and above who had undergone a VC were interviewed over Zoom. The transcribed interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.
Interviewees were very positive about their experience. All interviewees found VCs useful for routine follow-ups and were keen to continue using VCs. However, they also agreed that VCs are unsuitable for certain situations (e.g. presentation of pain).
The main benefits included time saving, no transportation costs, and less hassle. Some felt more relaxed being at home, and noted that doctors made more eye contact in comparison to in-person consultation. Drawbacks mentioned included the impossibility of physical examination, medicine delivery issues, and missing in-person interactions.
Interviewees with prior work experience using technology and those with mobility issues were enthusiastic about VCs. Informal IT support from children, grandchildren or friends was often necessary; only two interviewees were completely self-reliant. Interviewees who felt nervous about their first VCs gained confidence after a successful experience.
Use of VCs in older patients with multimorbidity is well-accepted and has additional benefits. Further research should consider reasons for declining VCs. More ground engagement and education are also needed to spread the use of VCs in these patients.