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Patient preference for virtual versus in-person visits in neuromuscular clinical practice.

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It is unknown if patients with neuromuscular diseases prefer in-person or virtual telemedicine visits. We studied patient opinions and preference on virtual versus in-person visits, and the factors influencing such preferences.


Telephone surveys, consisting of 11 questions, of patients from 10 neuromuscular centers were completed.


Five hundred and twenty surveys were completed. Twenty-six percent of respondents preferred virtual visits, while 50% preferred in-person visits. Sixty-four percent reported physical interaction as "very important." For receiving a new diagnosis, 55% preferred in-person vs 35% reporting no preference. Forty percent were concerned about a lack of physical examination vs 20% who were concerned about evaluating vital signs. Eighty four percent reported virtual visits were sufficiently private. Sixty eight percent did not consider expenses a factor in their preference. Although 92% were comfortable with virtual communication technology, 55% preferred video communications, and 19% preferred phone calls. Visit preference was not significantly associated with gender, diagnosis, disease severity, or symptom management. Patients who were concerned about a lack of physical exam or assessment of vitals had significantly higher odds of selecting in-person visits than no preference.


Although neither technology, privacy, nor finance burdened patients in our study, more patients preferred in-person visits than virtual visits and 40% were concerned about a lack of physical examination. Interactions that occur with in-person encounters had high importance for patients, reflecting differences in the perception of the patient-physician relationship between virtual and in-person visits.

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