di , 20/05/2024

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open sheds light on patient preferences for the visual backgrounds used during telemedicine visits. This research, conducted amid the accelerated adoption of telemedicine prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed to identify the preferred environments in which physicians conduct video visits and their impact on patient perceptions.

The study, led by Dr. Nathan Houchens from the University of Michigan and Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, involved a cross-sectional assessment of patient preferences for various visual backgrounds during virtual medical encounters. The institutional review boards of the University of Michigan and Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System approved the research, which included a diverse sample of adult patients who had completed in-person or virtual outpatient visits within the previous year. Notably, the study collected race and ethnicity data but did not report it to protect participant confidentiality.

Key findings

Key findings from the study revealed that the solid color background and other professional environments received similar mean composite scores, indicating patients’ overall comfort and perception of physicians’ qualities such as knowledge, trustworthiness, care, approachability, and professionalism. However, the physician’s office displaying diplomas garnered the highest rating across these domains, signifying its strong appeal to patients during telemedicine interactions.

The preference for traditional healthcare settings as the background for video visits was further highlighted, with two-Participants further highlighted their preference for traditional healthcare settings as the background for video visits, with two-thirds favoring such environments across various physician types. They notably favored the physician’s office displaying diplomas, while they significantly less preferred the bedroom and kitchen backgrounds.

The study’s findings hold significant implications for telemedicine practices, suggesting that patients may harbor specific preferences regarding the background environment used during virtual medical encounters. Notably, the visual backdrop can influence patient trust and satisfaction, highlighting the importance of nonverbal communication in telemedicine interactions.

Limitations and highlights

While the study emphasizes the potential impact of the visual environment on patient perceptions, it acknowledges certain limitations, such as low response rates for mailed surveys and the focus on specific institutions within a single geographic region, which may affect the generalizability of the findings. Nonetheless, the results provide valuable insights for healthcare systems aiming to optimize the telemedicine experience for patients.

As telemedicine continues to evolve as a vital component of healthcare delivery, the study’s emphasis on the impact of background environments on patient preferences underscores the importance of considering such factors to ensure patient-centered and effective telemedicine practices.

The study also highlights the need for further research and consideration of nonverbal communication elements to enhance the overall telemedicine experience for patients. This study’s findings may contribute to the refinement of telemedicine practices by prioritizing the creation of traditional office or examination room environments, aligning with patient preferences for the visual backdrop during virtual medical visits.

In conclusion, the research underscores the significance of patient preferences for telemedicine video backgrounds and emphasizes the need for healthcare systems to integrate these insights into telemedicine practice guidelines and protocols.