J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2023 Feb 22. doi: 10.1111/jgh.16148. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Sars-CoV-19 pandemic necessitated a transition to telemedicine for many healthcare encounters. The environmental impact of this transition in Gastroenterology (GI) combined with user experience has not been studied.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent tele-medicine visits (telephone and video) at GI clinic at West Virginia University (WVU). Distance of patients' residence from clinic x 2 was calculated and Environmental protection agency (EPA) calculators utilized to calculate greenhouse emissions (GHG) that were avoided from tele-visits. Patients were reached by telephone and were asked questions to fill in a validated telehealth usability questionnaire (TUQ) with Likert scales (1-7). Variables were also collected via chart review.
RESULTS: A total of 81 video and 89 telephone visits were conducted for GERD between March 2020 and November 2021. 111 patients were enrolled, a response rate of 65.29%. Mean age was lower in the video visit cohort compared to the telephone visit cohort (43.45 ± 14.32 years vs 52.34 ± 17.46 years). Most patients had medications prescribed during the visit (79.3%), and a majority had laboratory testing orders placed (57.7%).We calculated a total distance of 8,732 miles that the patients would have travelled if they were to present for in-person visits (including return trips). A total of 393.3 gallons of gasoline would have been required to transport these patients to and from the healthcare facility to their residence. A total of 3.5 metric tons of GHG's were saved by avoiding 393.3 gallons of gasoline for travel. In relatable terms, this is equivalent to burning more than 3500 pounds of coal. This averages to 31.5 kg GHG emissions and 3.54 gallons of gasoline saved per patient.
CONCLUSION: Telemedicine for GERD resulted in significant environmental savings and was rated highly for access, satisfaction, and usability by patients. Telemedicine for GERD can be an excellent alternative to in-person visits.
PMID:36813701 | DOI:10.1111/jgh.16148
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