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"It was surprisingly equivalent to the appointment I had in person": Advantages and disadvantages of synchronous telehealth for delivering primary care for autistic adults.
Harris L, Gilmore D, Hanks C, Coury D, Moffatt-Bruce S, Garvin JH, Hand BN. "It was surprisingly equivalent to the appointment I had in person": Advantages and disadvantages of synchronous telehealth for delivering primary care for autistic adults. Autism : The International Journal of Research and Practice. 2021 Nov 30; 13623613211060589.
Autistic adults face many barriers to receiving quality primary health care like clinics that are far away and sensory sensitivities. Real-time telehealth visits, called "virtual visits," are live video chats between the patient and provider. Virtual visits may minimize barriers to care for autistic adults. We wanted to describe advantages and disadvantages of using virtual visits for delivering primary health care for autistic adults. We interviewed 7 autistic adults and 12 caregivers of autistic adults who receive primary care through one clinic. Autistic adults and caregivers said advantages to virtual visits were that (1) patients were more comfortable at home, (2) patients could get health care while avoiding physical contact with other people during the pandemic, and (3) virtual visits were similar to or better than in-person visits. The disadvantages included that (1) there could be technology problems like grainy video, (2) the doctor could not physically examine the patient (e.g. look in ears), and (3) patients sometimes participated less in the virtual visit than they would in person. Virtual visits may be beneficial for autistic adults by eliminating travel to the clinic and avoiding stressful sensory stimuli. We recognize that virtual visits may not work for all patients or in all situations. However, our study shows that primary care virtual visits may be beneficial for autistic adults during and beyond the pandemic.