76 percent of post-surgery patients prefer telehealth followup: study

A 50-patient study at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee found that online-only post-surgical followup was acceptable to 76 percent of patients after uncomplicated surgery (hernia repairs, laparoscopic gall bladder). These patients, all of whom had internet access and a smartphone, tablet or digital camera, took their own pictures of their surgical site and transmitted these digital images through an online patient portal established by Vanderbilt. Both patient and doctor communicated through the portal to discuss follow-up care (though not necessarily at the same time). Another plus was that the online visits took significantly less time for patients (15 versus 103 minutes) and surgeons (5 versus 10 minutes). The surgeons reported a comparable effectiveness number–68 percent–for both online and in-person visits. Clinic visits were more effective in 24 percent and online visits for 8 percent. What was also notable was that no complications were missed via online visits. The program used to analyze images, typically used in wound management, was not disclosed in the study, which was performed between May and December last year. mHealthNews, Journal of the American College of Surgeons (abstract only)

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