Innovation & Technology

Understanding patient experiences before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A quasi-experimental comparison of in-person and virtual cancer care

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the immediate widespread implementation of virtual care appointments in Cancer Care Alberta (CCA). This study aimed to compare patient experiences and satisfaction with in-person care provided prior to the pandemic and virtual care provided after the COVID-19 outbreak. Surveys were conducted to compare patient satisfaction, using the Your Voice Matters (YVM) experience survey, between patients in the pre-pandemic in-person (baseline) and post-outbreak (virtual) cohorts. Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) with an ordinal logistic link were used, adjusting for self-reported health status and other covariates, to investigate the association between cohort type and patient satisfaction. Despite having higher overall health status, the virtual cohort reported statistically significantly lower satisfaction than the baseline with emotional concerns, referrals and resources, and friend/family involvement in their care. Patients in the virtual cohort were much less likely to have completed a routinely used symptom-based Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) questionnaire, which may help explain satisfaction differences. The additional stressors brought about by the pandemic, as well as the mode of virtual care delivery, both likely contributed to the lower satisfaction of the virtual cohort as well. Understanding the key differences in experience between the two cohorts will inform the development of a larger virtual care strategy within CCA in the future.