September 9, 2021

Surgical patients find postop virtual visits more convenient without loss of satisfaction

Editor's Note

In this study by researchers at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, surgical patients find virtual follow-up care more convenient than traditional in-person appointments without loss of quality or efficiency, which are important components of patient satisfaction.

The analysis included 289 patients having laparoscopic appendectomy or cholecystectomy at two hospitals in Charlotte. Patients were randomly assigned to two groups—virtual or in-person—and patient responses were analyzed by three groups: 135 virtual visits, 53 crossover visits (randomized to a virtual visit but crossed over to an in-person visit), and 101 in-person office visits.

Among the findings:

  • Respondents said virtual visits were more convenient.
  • Patients found virtual visits no different than in-person visits on measures of satisfaction.
  • Of virtual-visit patients, 78.8% said they would choose virtual appointments for future follow-up care; whereas, less than half of in-person visit patients said they would choose in-person visits for the same care.
  • Challenges for virtual-care patients included technological difficulties, logging on, navigating the app, and connection issues; challenges for in-person care patients were long commute times and difficulty finding the office location.

The researchers concluded that patients can get excellent care at virtual or in-person visits, but virtual visits are not the right answer for all patients all the time.

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