Among the various attributes of impacts of telemedicine, satisfaction of patients (and sometimes patients' relatives) has been the one evaluated most often. Aspects of patient satisfaction that typically are evaluated are: convenience, comfort during a consult, comparison to in-person consultation, privacy concerns, and willingness to use telemedicine in the future. Past patient satisfaction instruments have rated patient responses to such questions such as: 3
- Overall, how satisfied are you with today's telemedicine session?
- How easy was it to talk with the provider on the other end of the telemedicine connection?
- Are you comfortable that the provider was able to understand what your health problem was?
- How much did the telemedicine provider seem to care about you as a person?
- Did you feel relaxed or tense during the telemedicine session?
- Did the telemedicine make it easier for you to get care today?
- Do you think telemedicine improves your medical care?
- Do you think your telemedicine session was as good as a regular in-person visit?
- How well did the telemedicine equipment work today?
- Would you use telemedicine again?
Our respondents generally indicated that the area least in need of further evaluation was patient satisfaction. The results from past evaluations demonstrate that patient satisfaction has been nearly universally high, to the extent that the lack of variation in satisfaction limits an evaluator's ability to discern the sensitivity of satisfaction to other factors (Gustke et al. 2000). 4 Telemedicine project staff and other experts concur that consistently high levels of patient satisfaction have demonstrated that further patient satisfaction evaluation is not a priority and that evaluation resources may be spent more wisely on other areas. Indeed, telemedicine staff indicate that the effort to complete patient satisfaction forms, and the length of the forms themselves, may be regarded as a nuisance to patients as well as clinical staff.