Submission Type

Original Research


Introduction: During the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, social distancing policies called for health care providers to turn to telemedicine platforms for most of their patient encounters. We aimed to better understand the experiences and perspectives of patients and providers who used telemedicine in the primary care setting.

Methods: This study included semi-structured interviews with patients and providers who participated in telemedicine visits during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients (n = 14) were from a rural Maine practice and providers (n = 10) were from practices within 100 miles of a tertiary care center. The interviews were analyzed through inductive coding and applying the constant comparative method.

Results: Both patients and providers expressed general satisfaction with their telemedicine experiences. Patients (64%) and providers (90%) felt “comfortable” with telemedicine. They praised telemedicine for its convenience and recognized the benefit of having a telemedicine option in the future. However, there was a mixed response regarding perceived efficacy of telemedicine and the ability to emotionally connect over virtual platforms. Finally, the participants in this study discussed dissatisfaction with the loss of the “ritual of medicine.”

Discussion: The COVID-19 pandemic posed barriers to health care that parallel existing barriers in rural states. For much of this rural population, the rapid implementation of telemedicine enabled easier access to care. However, the implementation also saw many technological and infrastructural roadblocks.

Conclusions: Understanding the benefits and challenges of telemedicine for patients and providers will be critical in assuring that telemedicine continues to improve access to health care.



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