Telemedicine: An Effective Tool for Patient-Physician Communication
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of telemedicine appointments in a tertiary orthopedic hip clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a substitute for traditional in-person visits. One hundred sixty-three patients had a telemedicine visit from March to September 2020. Patients were divided into two cohorts. The presurgical group included all patients who had not undergone any prior surgical hip procedures. The pre-surgical group was further subdivided into two groups based on the purpose of the visit: conservative treatment and imaging review. Patients who were indicated for surgical treatment from these two groups were identified to assess their compliance with the surgical indication. The effectiveness was measured by assessing whether patients required an in-person visit before the scheduled follow-up after the telemedicine visit for further medical assessment. Fifty (30.7%) men and 113 (69.3%) women had a telemedicine visit during the 6-month period. The mean age was 43.68 (±16.95) years. There were 92 (56.4%) patients in the presurgical group, of whom 41% followed up after indication for conservative treatment and 59% visited to review imaging. From these groups, 27% were indicated for surgical treatment. The postsurgical group contained 71 (43.6%) patients, divided into three groups based on their surgery date: 0 to 3 months (27%), 4 to 12 months (59%), and more than 12 months (14%). All patients were compliant with the scheduled follow-up after their telemedicine visit. This study showed that telemedicine can be an effective tool for patient-physician communication, obviating the need for subsequent follow-up beyond regularly scheduled visits. [Orthopedics. 20XX;XX(X):xx-xx.].