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ORIGINAL ARTICLE   

Minerva Surgery 2022 August;77(4):360-7

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-5691.21.08963-2

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Utility of telephone consultations during COVID-19 and beyond: a study of orthopedic spinal patients

Michael WOODMASS , Kathryn RAMSHAW, Palaniappan LAKSHMANAN

Department of Trauma and Orthopedics, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland, UK



BACKGROUND: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital clinic lists have abruptly shifted towards remote appointments via telephone. This study investigated the views and experiences of telephone consultations in a population of orthopedic spinal patients.
METHODS: A 10-item telephone questionnaire was completed by 202 orthopedic spinal patients. Questions addressed patient perceptions towards: confidence in telephone consultations; their impact on treatment outcome; their advantages and limitations and how satisfied they were with their telephone consultation.
RESULTS: Ninety-four percent of patients were confident in their doctor providing effective care via telephone consultation. 81% of patients were confident that their treatment outcome would not have changed with a face-to-face appointment and 75% would consider choosing a telephone consultation in the postpandemic era. Key benefits of telephone consultations for patients are the convenience of not travelling and avoiding travel-related expenses. The most commonly reported limitation is the lack of a clinical examination. Satisfaction scores were consistently high with no significant differences between different treatment groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that telephone calls are a favorable method of consultation for patients requiring orthopedic spinal care. Satisfaction levels are consistently high, patient confidence in their clinician is nearly unanimous and a majority of patients would consider choosing this method for future follow-up appointments. Issues with telephone consultations appear to chiefly concern the lack of physical examination, difficulties with the communication and retention of clinical information, and brevity of the appointment. However, consistent satisfaction scores suggest broad utility across a comprehensive range of treatment outcomes for orthopedic spinal patients.


KEY WORDS: COVID-19; Remote consultation; Patient satisfaction; Orthopedics; Spine

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