B M HUUSKES1, N SCHOLES-ROBERTSON2,3, C GUHA2,3, A BARMGART2,3, A TONG2,3
1Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, 2School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 3Centre for Kidney Research, The Children’s Hospital Westmead, Westmead, Australia
Aim: To describe the patient and caregiver experience of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Background: From March 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many nephrology clinics had to adopt telehealth to manage kidney transplantation recipients. However, the potential benefits and risks regarding the quality of care from the patient perspective are uncertain.
Methods: Five online focus groups were conducted via Zoom with 35 transplant recipients (51% female) across Australia who had experienced at least one telehealth appointment. Transcripts were thematically analysed.
Results: Focus group participants were mainly white (74%), female (51%), on average had their transplant for 5 years and were in the age group of 41-50 years old. We identified 4 themes: minimising burden (convenient and easy, reducing exposure to risk, limiting disruption to work, alleviating financial burden); attuning to individual context (dependant on stability of health, respect patient choice of receiving care, environmental distraction); protecting personal connection and trust (requires established rapport with clinicians, missed incidental interactions with healthcare team, reassurance of adequate follow up, loss of opportunities to meet patients); empowerment and readiness (taking on more responsibility for health, needing reassurance and confirmation of information, mental preparedness for appointments).
Conclusion: Patients suggested that the option of telehealth should be available, even after the pandemic, and that it should be provide by a trusted nephrologist whom rapport was already established. This information could be used to inform policy about the implementation of telehealth to be offered as a part of main-stream post-transplant care.
Dr Brooke Huuskes is a post-doctoral researcher at La Trobe University with an interest in basic science and clinical research. Her fundamental research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of hypertension-induced kidney injury, while her clinical research aims to understand the patient experience of living with chronic kidney disease.