Kidney transplant recipient perspectives on telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

25 June 2021

Background The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the delivery of health services. Telehealth allows delivery of care without in-person contacts and minimizes the risk of vial transmission. We aimed to describe the perspectives of kidney transplant recipients on the benefits, challenges and risks of telehealth. Methods We conducted five online focus groups with 34 kidney transplant recipients who had experienced a telehealth appointment. Transcripts were thematically analyzed. Results We identified five themes: minimizing burden (convenient and easy, efficiency of appointments, reducing exposure to risk, limiting work disruptions, alleviating financial burden); attuning to individual context (depending on stability of health, respect patient choice of care, ensuring a conducive environment); protecting personal connection and trust (requires established rapport with clinicians, hampering honest conversations, diminished attentiveness without incidental interactions, reassurance of follow up, missed opportunity to share lived experience); empowerment and readiness (increased responsibility for self-management, confidence in physical assessment, mental preparedness, forced independence); navigating technical challenges (interrupted communication, new and daunting technologies, cognisant of patient digital literacy). Conclusions Telehealth is convenient and minimizes time, financial and overall treatment burden. Telehealth should ideally be available after the pandemic, be provided by a trusted nephrologist and supported with resources to help patients prepare for appointments