Opted for qualitative in-depth telephone interviews to reach a target group of ECPs and patients to discuss personal experiences with telemedicine and expectations for a future service. ECPs and patients were recruited on the basis of treating or suffering from specific eye conditions.
We asked respondents to review current telemedicine platforms to assess their likes and dislikes and how they are currently using telemedicine. We further enquired into their unmet needs in the patient journey, and assessed which features would be most useful for a telemedicine service in order to address current and future needs.
Due to the onset of COVID-19, research was briefly halted. Once we resumed fieldwork the client team felt it was necessary to understand how social distancing rules might have influenced the perception of telemedicine, and whether this would have a lasting effect on the likelihood to use telemedicine in the future. To this end, additional questions were added to explore the potential impact of the pandemic.
Our interactive in-depth interviews provided an opportunity to examine and generate ideas for an optimal telemedicine service for ophthalmology. We were able to inform the client’s understanding of how these services are currently being used, pinpoint different needs between ECPs and patients, as well as assess the relative necessity to include various features. We also provided insights into potential barriers to uptake and implementation and how to overcome them. Ultimately, we delivered specifics on how a future telemedicine service should be best designed.
We were able to demonstrate to the client that COVID-19 has initiated a shift in the perception of telemedicine services as a way to provide continued safe access to healthcare, which has seen an increase in usage that is likely to continue into the future. This has convinced our client to continue their commitment to a telemedicine service in ophthalmology.