HumanInsight Telemedicine versus face-to-face follow up in general surgery: a randomized controlled trial
ANZ J Surg. 2022 Sep 7. doi: 10.1111/ans.18028. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Telemedicine provides healthcare to patients at a distance from their treating clinician. There is a lack of high-quality evidence to support the safety and acceptability of telemedicine for postoperative outpatient follow-up. This randomized controlled trial-conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic-aimed to assess patient satisfaction and safety (as determined by readmission, reoperation and complication rates) by telephone compared to face-to-face follow-up after uncomplicated general surgical procedures.
METHODS: Patients following laparoscopic appendicectomy or cholecystectomy and laparoscopic or open umbilical or inguinal hernia repairs were randomized to a telephone or face-to-face outpatient clinic. Patient demographics, perioperative details and postoperative outcomes were compared. Patient satisfaction was assessed via a standardized Likert-style scale.
RESULTS: One hundred and twenty-three patients were randomized over 12 months. Mean consultation times were significantly shorter for telemedicine than face-to-face clinics (telemedicine 10.52 ± 7.2 min, face-to-face 15.95 ± 9.96 min, P = 0.0021). There was no difference between groups in the attendance rates, nor the incidence or detection of postoperative complications. Of the 58 patients randomized to the telemedicine arm, 40% reported high, and 60% reported very high satisfaction with the method of clinic follow-up.
CONCLUSION: Telemedicine postoperative follow-up is safe and acceptable to patients and could be considered in patients undergoing uncomplicated benign general surgery.
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