• ANZ journal of surgery · Sep 2021

    Patient perceptions of surgical telehealth consultations during the COVID 19 pandemic in Australia: Lessons for future implementation.

    • Elvina Wiadji, Lisa Mackenzie, Patrick Reeder, Jonathan S Gani, Sima Ahmadi, Rosemary Carroll, Stephen Smith, Mark Frydenberg, and Christine J O'Neill.
    • Surgical Services, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
    • ANZ J Surg. 2021 Sep 1; 91 (9): 1662-1667.

    IntroductionPrior studies of telehealth report high levels of patient satisfaction, but within carefully selected clinical scenarios. The COVID-19 pandemic led to telehealth replacing face-to-face care for many surgical consultations across a variety of situations. More evidence is needed regarding patient perceptions of telehealth in surgery, in particular, exploring barriers and facilitators associated with its sustained implementation beyond the pandemic.MethodsSurvey invitations were emailed to a convenience sample of surgical patients by their surgeon following a telehealth consultation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Surgeons were recruited from a sample (n = 683) who completed a survey on telehealth (distributed via email to all Australian Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons). Mixed methods analysis was performed of the patient survey data.ResultsA total of 1166 consultations were captured: 50% routine reviews, 17% initial appointments and 20% post-operative reviews. Video-link was used in 49% of consultations. The majority of patients (94%), were satisfied with the quality of their surgical telehealth consultation and 75% felt it delivered the same level of care as face-to-face encounters. Telehealth was convenient to use (96%) and led to cost savings for 60% of patients. When asked about future appointment preferences after the pandemic, 41% indicated they would prefer telehealth (24% video-link and 17% telephone) over face-to-face appointments. There was a perception by patients that telehealth consultation fees should be less than face-to-face consultation fees.ConclusionPatient satisfaction with surgical telehealth consultations is high. Barriers to more widespread implementation include financial, clinical appropriateness, technical and confidentiality concerns.© 2021 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

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