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Rheumatology Patients Prefer Office Visits to Telemedicine


Patients report higher satisfaction with in-person rheumatology visits over telemedicine appointments, according to new research.


  • Investigators recruited established patients at rheumatology clinics at two tertiary medical centers (the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of California, San Francisco) from August 2021 to November 2022.

  • 501 patients were randomly assigned to have in-person or telehealth appointments.

  • After their visits, patients rated satisfaction using a 10-point Likert scale.

  • The investigators compared the two visit types with regard to high post-visit satisfaction (score of 9 or 10).


  • 90.1% of the patients who received in-person appointments were highly satisfied with their visit, compared with 76.7% of the telemedicine group.

  • Nearly half of the telemedicine group (47.7%) said they would prefer an in-person visit for their next appointment, and 55.6% of the in-person group wanted the same type of visit for their next encounter.

  • Less than 1 in 5 people in either group said they preferred telemedicine for their next visit.

  • There was no difference between the two groups in self-efficacy for managing medications or medication adherence.


There was high satisfaction in both groups, but patients tended to prefer in-person to telemedicine visits for their rheumatology care.


The study was presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2023 Annual Meeting by lead author Lesley E. Jackson, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


The study population was mostly female (84%) and from one geographic area.


Funding was provided by the Rheumatology Research Foundation Innovative Research Award. The authors disclosed relationships with AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Gilead, Pfizer, and several other biopharmaceutical companies.

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