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The pandemic, telemedicine, and andrology: what have we learned?

HumanInsight The pandemic, telemedicine, and andrology: what have we learned?

Sex Med Rev. 2023 Apr 12:qead008. doi: 10.1093/sxmrev/qead008. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Telemedicine gained wide acceptance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it was deemed critical for patient care when lockdowns were implemented worldwide. While there is evidence to suggest that urology patients were receptive to telemedicine, no systematic review has been done to date on andrology patients and their perception of telemedicine.

METHODS: Three electronic databases, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, were searched from their inception until June 2022 for relevant articles. Two independent teams reviewed abstracts and extracted data from the selected manuscripts. A meta-analysis was completed in line with PRISMA 2020 and AMSTAR Guidelines. For our study, we limited telemedicine to communication through videoconferencing or telephone encounters between patients and medical professionals. Positive response to telemedicine was defined as patients "wishing for telemedicine consultation", "preferring telemedicine over in person", "accepting the current telemedicine arrangement", "having needs addressed with teleconsultation", or "willingness to do a teleconsultation".

RESULTS: Of the 1128 retrieved abstracts, 56 underwent full-text review and 12 were included in the final analysis, comprising a total cohort of >4021 cases. Video visits were evaluated in 5 studies, telephone encounters were analyzed in 2 studies, and both methods were examined in 1 randomized control study. Three studies showed that andrology and sexual medicine are compatible with telemedicine, with few 30- and 90-day in-person revisit rates. Telemedicine was shown to save an average cost of US$149-$252 per patient, and 8 studies that directly assessed andrology patient perceptions of telemedicine showed that most patients had a "positive perception."Pooled analyses of the positive responses to telemedicine were 68.7% (95% CI, 49.4%-83.1%, P = 0.057), and those of patients who recommended telemedicine were 65.1% (95% CI, 18.4%-93.9%, P = 0.577). While the percentage of patients recommending telemedicine was high among studies using videoconferencing, the percentage dropped in studies using telephone visits only. The difference between recommending video and telephone practices was statistically significant, with 84.6% pooled proportion for recommending video practice compared to 38.9% pooled proportion for recommending telephone practice, P = 0.035. In the telephone-only encounters, up to 27.1% of patients preferred in-person visits, as security and privacy of any mode of telecommunication were of concern.

CONCLUSIONS: Most patients have a positive perception of telemedicine, particularly with videoconferencing and less so with telephone visits. These results suggest that telemedicine will likely continue to play a pivotal role in andrology and sexual medicine practices.

PMID:37045478 | DOI:10.1093/sxmrev/qead008

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