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Patient experiences with telehealth in sleep medicine: a qualitative evaluation.

Donovan LM, Mog AC, Blanchard KN, Magid KH, Syed AS, Kelley LR, Palen BN, Parsons EC, McCall CC, Thompson W, Charlton M, Spece LJ, Kirsh S, Au DH, Sayre GG. Patient experiences with telehealth in sleep medicine: a qualitative evaluation. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2021 Aug 1; 17(8):1645-1651.

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STUDY OBJECTIVES: The field of sleep medicine has been an avid adopter of telehealth, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this study was to assess patients' experiences receiving sleep care by telehealth. METHODS: From June 2019 to May 2020, the authors recruited a sample of patients for semi-structured interviews, including patients who had 1 of 3 types of telehealth encounters in sleep medicine: in-clinic video, home-based video, and telephone. Two analysts coded transcripts using content analysis and identified themes that cut across patients and categories. RESULTS: The authors conducted interviews with 35 patients and identified 5 themes. (1) Improved access to care: Patients appreciated telehealth as providing access to sleep care in a timely and convenient manner. (2) Security and privacy: Patients described how home-based telehealth afforded them greater feelings of safety and security due to avoidance of anxiety-provoking triggers (eg, crowds). Patients also noted a potential loss of privacy with telehealth. (3) Personalization of care: Patients described experiences with telehealth care that either improved or hindered their ability to communicate their needs. (4) Patient empowerment: Patients described how telehealth empowered them to manage their sleep disorders. (5) Unmet needs: Patients recognized specific areas where telehealth did not meet their needs, including the need for tangible services (eg, mask fitting). CONCLUSIONS: Patients expressed both positive and negative experiences, highlighting areas where telehealth can be further adapted. As telehealth in sleep medicine continues to evolve, the authors encourage providers to consider these aspects of the patient experience. CITATION: Donovan LM, Mog AC, Blanchard KN, et al. Patient experiences with telehealth in sleep medicine: a qualitative evaluation. . 2021;17(8):1645-1651.

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