Introduction: After rapid implementation of telehealth delivery of rehabilitation services at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lack of information on rehabilitation providers’ perceptions of the usability of telehealth in rehabilitation and their satisfaction with telehealth.
Methods: Rehabilitation providers (n=68) at an academic medical center and county hospital who delivered care via telehealth from March to August 2020 were assessed via a survey study (54% response rate) which gathered information on types of encounters, provider satisfaction, challenges faced, and usability as assessed by the Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (TUQ; subscale scores ranging from 1-7).
Results: Rehabilitation providers reported telehealth was useful (TUQ Usefulness subscale mean 6.27, SD=0.76), easy to use (TUQ Ease of Use subscale mean 5.72, SD=1.05), and effective (TUQ Effectiveness subscale mean 5.33, SD=1.03). They were overall very satisfied with telehealth (TUQ Satisfaction subscale mean 5.81, SD=1.03). Just under half (41.2%) experienced issues, with technical problems (e.g., connection issues) and limitations of technology (e.g., unable to perform physical examinations) as the most common. Traumatic injuries, stroke, wounds, pain, and urinary/bowel dysfunction were the most challenging conditions to address using telehealth.
Discussion: Despite this being the first time that almost all participants had used telehealth in clinical practice as a direct result of shutdown of in-person services in response to the pandemic, rehabilitation providers were highly satisfied with using telehealth, finding it to be useful, easy to use, and effective. The rapid and effective implementation and positive provider experience indicate that telerehabilitation could be maintained to improve access to clinical services and efficiency in service delivery.