Findings From a Study of Telehealth in Sleep Medicine: Lucas Donovan, MD, MS


The assistant professor in the division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the University of Washington discussed key findings from a recent study on patient experience with telehealth encounters. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

[WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

“Going into these interviews, I expected the patients would discuss how telehealth encounters were either just the same or perhaps slightly worse than in-person. And while many patients did find that telehealth encounters mimicked in-person care, or had slight technical downsides, other veterans express how telehealth was actually superior in facilitating good communication with providers.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the integration of telehealth was a key component for ensuring patients continued to receive necessary care, while adhering to stay-at-home and quarantine orders. For those with sleep disorders, this adjustment facilitated both positive and negative effects, according to findings from a recent study evaluating a spectrum of patients’ experiences.

In conversation with NeurologyLive, Lucas Donovan, MD, MS, outlined the study, which recruited participants with sleep disorders between June 2019 and May 2020, all of whom had 1 of 3 types of telehealth encounters—in-clinic video, home-based video, or telephone. Donovan, who is the corresponding author of the study; as well as an assistant professor in the division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the University of Washington; and core investigator at the Seattle-Denver Health Services Research & Development Center of Innovation, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle Division, discussed the 5 overall themes identified in the study, as well as aspects that surprised investigators. 

According to Donovan, via interviews with 35 patients, investigators concluded that patients with sleep disorders who had telehealth encounters had improved access to care, variations in interpretations of security and privacy, variations in perceived personalization of care, empowerment in the management of their care, as well as unmet needs in the form of tangible services.

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