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POS1543-HPR Joining Telemedicine Services in Rheumatology: the Role Played by Personalized Experience From Patients’ Perspective
  1. E. Listorti1,
  2. L. Ferrara1,
  3. A. Adinolfi2,
  4. M. C. Gerardi2,
  5. N. Ughi2,
  6. V. Tozzi1,
  7. O. M. Epis2
  1. 1CERGAS SDA Bocconi, Bocconi University, Government, Health & Not for Profit, Milan, Italy
  2. 2ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda, Rheumatology Unit, Milan, Italy


Background With the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many hospital departments worldwide, including rheumatology ones, were forced to implement telemedicine strategies. Telemedicine revealed to be an umbrella term, with various practical implementations and different degrees of preparedness1. Some practitioners were already familiar with telemedicine, as in the case of the Rheumatology Unit of ASST Niguarda Hospital in Milan (Italy), where telemedicine projects have been implemented for more than a decade with structured design and organized processes. Moreover, patients in Niguarda have experimented telemedicine with personalized mixes of channels, including e-mails and phone calls, Patient Reported Outcomes questionnaires, and home delivery of drugs. This represents a paradigmatic case study that enables us to deepen essential questions on the success of telemedicine.

Objectives Given that the last decision on joining telemedicine rests with patients2, we decided to adopt their perspective. We deepened three main aspects: i) the benefits perceived, ii) the willingness to enrol in future projects, iii) the preference on the service-mix, i.e., on-distance contacts rather than in-person visits. Most importantly, we investigated differences in the three areas among all patients based on the type of personalized experience had.

Methods We conducted a survey from November 2021 to January 2022, enrolling randomly outpatients who attended the rheumatology unit for any reason. The survey originated from well-known surveys, such as the TeleHealth Usability Questionnaire3 and the Intention to use telehealth services4. However, we decided to overcome the usual separation that makes surveys addressed either to users or no users of telemedicine. Our survey comprised an introductory set of questions related to personal, social, clinical and ICT skills information, followed by the central part on telemedicine, which explored the three areas mentioned: benefits, adherence, preferences on service-mix. For this part, questions were the same for all patients apart from the tense used, being conditional tense for no-users and past tense for users. All the answers were analysed with descriptive statistics and regression models.

Results A complete response was given by 400 patients: 71% were female, 59% were 40-64 years old, 53% of them declared to work, and the diseases most represented were Rheumatoid Arthritis (36%) and Osteoporosis/arthrosis (21%).

The descriptive statistics revealed interesting differences between users and no users, e.g., the desire to participate in future projects was stated by 95% of users, 81% of no users. These results were confirmed by multivariate logistic regression models that controlled for the influencing patients’ characteristics (such as being old or a frequent hospital attender).

It emerged that no-users imagined wide-ranging benefits. As for the willingness to participate to future telehealth projects, even if personal characteristics showed an impact (e.g., being a worker increased the probability to adhere), other things being equal, having had a more intense experience of telemedicine increased the odds of accepting by 3.1 times (95% C.I. 1.04-9.25), compared to no users. Furthermore, the more telemedicine was experienced, the higher the willingness to substitute in-person with online contacts.

Conclusion Our study contributes to enlighten the crucial role played by the telemedicine experience in determining patients’ preferences. On one side, users appeared more aware of the realistic benefits to be expected from telemedicine. On the other side, it seemed that the more telemedicine was experienced, the higher the willingness to adhere to future projects and to increase on-distance contacts.

References [1]Hashiguchi T.C.O. 2020. Bringing health care to the patient: An overview of the use of telemedicine in OECD countries.

[2]Eze ND et al. 2020 PloS one

[3]ParmantoB, et al. 2016 International journal of telerehabilitation

[4]Ghaddar S et al. 2020 Journal of Medical Internet Research

Acknowledgements This study would not have been possible without the support of the whole staff of the Rheumatology unit who contributed to the distribution of the survey

Disclosure of Interests Elisabetta Listorti: None declared, Lucia Ferrara: None declared, Antonella Adinolfi Speakers bureau: Janssen, BMS, Maria Chiara Gerardi: None declared, Nicola Ughi Speakers bureau: ROCHE, PFIZER, ALFASIGMA, ABBVIE, JANSSEN, GALAPAGOS, BRISTOL MYERS SQUIBB, Valeria Tozzi: None declared, oscar massimiliano epis: None declared

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