A comparison of communication models of traditional and video-mediated health care delivery

George Demiris, Karen Edison, Santosh Vijaykumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


While there may be benefits that accrue to the use of telemedicine technology in patient care, such as decreased costs and improved access, it has yet to be determined how telemedicine impacts patients’ ability to express themselves and accordingly, how it impacts health care providers’ communication of instructions or expressions of empathy.

The aim of this study was to examine the effect of telemedicine technology on communication by comparing the style and content of communication between actual (i.e., face to face) and virtual (i.e., non-face to face, telemedical) dermatology visits. The hypothesis was that there is no difference in the content and style of communication between actual and virtual visits in dermatology.

Face-to-face and video-mediated dermatology sessions were observed and also audiotaped, timed and transcribed. A content analysis was performed.

Average duration of a face-to-face session was 11 min (S.D. 0.08) and of a telemedical session 9 min (S.D. 0.002). Small talk occurred in 20% of all face-to-face and 29.6% of all telemedical visits. Clinical assessment occurred in all sessions. Patient education occurred in 90% of face-to-face and 78% of telemedical visits. Other themes were also identified (e.g., discussion of treatment, promotion of compliance, psychosocial issues). In 14.8% of telemedical sessions technical issues were raised. Findings indicate that communication patterns in the two modes of care delivery are comparable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-856
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


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