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Is Virtual Clinic the Way Forward: Patient Satisfaction Comparing Phone Clinic vs. Conventional Clinic

Author(s): Wall Benjamin, Daly Patrick, Dunnill Aidan, Osan Jessica, Brogan Kit

Background: Outpatient clinics play a vital role in assessing and treating patients. They have traditionally involved a face-to-face consultation with a clinician to diagnose and treat many medical and surgical conditions. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic many of these traditional methods were replaced with telemedicine to minimise patient interaction and therefore potential exposure. This study utilises data from patient questionnaires with the aim of determining overall patient satisfaction in regards to telemedicine.

Method: A list of patients who attended the Rockingham General hospital outpatient Orthopaedic phone clinic was obtained, this list was then filtered into a randomised generator to provide a call list of patients. Patients were contacted and verbal consent was obtained to participate in satisfaction questionnaire which was completed via phone.

Results: A total of 100 patients completed the questionnaire - 50 from elective surgery clinics and 50 from fracture clinics. The mean time for participants’ one-way commute to the hospital was 21 minutes (2 to 60 minutes). Only 4% of telehealth consultations resulted in patients being forced to miss work or school. 13% of patients were required to attend the hospital on the day of their consultation for either radiological imaging or for application or removal of casts or splint. We observed consistently high satisfaction scores across all parameters, in both elective and fracture clinics, culminating in a mean score of >9.00/10 on the Likert scale. In the qualitative component of the questionnaire, patients frequently acknowledged a high quality of care despite adverse circumstances.

Conclusion: Telemedicine continues to develop and become a more widely accessible tool in the provision of outpatient orthopaedic care. With its ever-increasing availability and acceptance, it should play a more central role in delivering effective and efficient healthcare to all patients.

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