Online genetic counseling from the providers’ perspective: counselors’ evaluations and a time and cost analysis.
Eur J Hum Genet. 2016 Jan 20;
Authors: Otten E, Birnie E, Ranchor AV, van Langen IM
Telemedicine applications are increasingly being introduced in patient care in various disciplines, including clinical genetics, mainly to increase access to care and to reduce time and costs for patients and professionals. Most telegenetics reports describe applications in large geographical areas, showing positive patients’ and professionals’ satisfaction. One economic analysis published thus far reported lower costs than in-person care. We hypothesized that telegenetics can also be beneficial from the professional’s view in relatively small geographical areas. We performed a pilot study in the Northern Netherlands of 51 home-based online counseling sessions for cardiogenetic and oncogenetic cascade screening, and urgent prenatal counseling. Previously, we showed patient satisfaction, anxiety, and perceived control of online counseling to be comparable to in-person counseling. This study focuses on expectations, satisfaction, and practical evaluations of the involved counselors, and the impact in terms of time and costs. Most counselors expected disadvantages of online counseling for themselves and their patients, mainly concerning insufficient non-verbal communication; few expected advantages for themselves. Afterwards, counselors additionally raised the disadvantage of insufficient verbal communication, and reported frequent technical problems. Their overall mean telemedicine satisfaction itemscore was 3.38 before, and 2.95 afterwards, being afterwards slightly below the minimum level we set for a satisfactory result. We estimated reduced time and costs by online counseling with about 8% and 10-12%, respectively. We showed online genetic counseling to be effective, feasible and cost-efficient, but technical improvements are needed to increase counselors’ satisfaction.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 20 January 2016; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2015.283.
PMID: 26785833 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]