Telehealth Resource Center

Telehealth Resource Center

Disclosures: Lawrenz reports no relevant financial disclosures.
November 29, 2021
1 min read
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Telehealth may be feasible in orthopedic oncology

Disclosures: Lawrenz reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Published results showed the use of telehealth for outpatient clinic visits may be feasible in orthopedic oncology, with favorable patient opinions, time savings and comparable reimbursement to in-office visits.

Using a Likert scale metric, open-ended feedback and direct comparisons between telehealth and in-office visits, Joshua M. Lawrenz, MD, and colleagues assessed patient satisfaction among 64 patients who underwent a telehealth visit with an orthopedic oncology provider between March 2020 and June 2020. Researchers compared billing and collection financial data among both the telehealth cohort and a separate cohort of in-office visits during the same period. Researchers measured the clinical competency of telehealth visits through delayed or missed diagnoses and surgical site infections that could be attributed to lack of an in-person physical examination.

Results showed patients were largely satisfied with their telehealth experience, with telehealth reported as equal to or better than in-office visits in terms of convenience, time, privacy and overall quality by more than 90% of patients. Researchers found more than two-thirds of patients noted there were scenarios in which an in-office visit would be preferable to a telehealth visit, such as in early postoperative and early sarcoma surveillance visits. Institutional financial reimbursements of telehealth visits were comparable to in-office visits, according to results. Researchers noted two patients experienced adverse events that could have been attributed to the lack of an in-person physical examination.

Joshua M. Lawrenz
Joshua M. Lawrenz

“This study supports the feasibility and utility of telemedicine in an orthopedic oncology practice. Overall, patients like it, particularly the time savings and its convenience. Also, reimbursement was comparable to in-office visits, which was encouraging,” Lawrenz, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery in the division of musculoskeletal oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Healio Orthopedics. “We do caution [the use of] telemedicine when the physical exam is a focus of the appointment, such as for immediate postoperative visits or surveillance of superficial tumors. We find it particularly useful for image-focused surveillance visits in patients who travel a far distance. Telemedicine in orthopedics is here to stay, and we believe its strategic use for specific patient encounters in orthopedic oncology will enhance our practices and be well-received by patients.”