Development and Patient Satisfaction of a New Telemedicine Service for Pain Management at Massachusetts General Hospital to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard

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Abstract

Objective. Patients in remote areas lack access to specialist care and pain management services. In order to provide pain management care to patients remote from our center, we created a telemedicine pain clinic (telepain) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, MA to extend services to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Design. Over 13 months, 238 telepain video clinic evaluations were conducted. A pain physician visited the island 1–2 days per month and performed 121 interventions. Given the novelty of telemedicine clinics, we surveyed patients to gauge satisfaction and identify perceived weaknesses in our approach that could be addressed. Forty-nine consecutive patients answered a 14-question, 5-point balanced Likert-scale survey with 1 (no, definitely not) being most negative and 5 (yes, definitely) being most positive.

Setting. Patients on Martha’s Vineyard referred for pain management consultation services via telemedicine.

Patients. Forty-nine consecutive patients evaluated via telemedicine.

Interventions. Likert-scale survey administered.

Measures. Questions measured patient impressions of video-based visits with their doctor, convenience of the visit, concerns about privacy, and whether they would recommend such a visit, among other items.

Results. Mean respondent scores for each question were >4.3 indicating a favorable impression of the telepain clinic experience. Lowest mean scores were found when respondents were asked to compare the care they received by telepain versus an in-person visit, or whether they were able to develop a friendly relationship with the doctor.

Conclusions. The results suggest an overall positive reception of telepain by patients, yet highlight the challenge of building a patient-physician relationship remotely.

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