A Multicenter Evaluation of the Feasibility, Patient/Provider Satisfaction, and Value of Virtual Spine Consultation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sandra Hobson, Ilyas S. Aleem, Miranda J. Bice, Bilal B. Butt, Mohamad Bydon, Benjamin D. Elder, Donald R. Fredericks, Melvin D. Helgeson, Rakesh D. Patel, Arjun Sebastian, Scott C. Wagner, Seth K. Williams, Ashley E. Xiong, Paul A. Anderson, Brett Freedman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To assess the feasibility, patient/provider satisfaction, and perceived value of telehealth spine consultation after rapid conversion from traditional in-office visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Data were obtained for patients undergoing telehealth visits with spine surgeons in the first 3 weeks after government restriction of elective surgical care at 4 sites (March 23, 2020, to April 17, 2020). Demographic factors, technique-specific elements of the telehealth experience, provider confidence in diagnostic and therapeutic assessment, patient/surgeon satisfaction, and perceived value were collected. Results: A total of 128 unique visits were analyzed. New (74 [58%]), preoperative (26 [20%]), and postoperative (28 [22%]) patients were assessed. A total of 116 (91%) visits had successful connection on the first attempt. Surgeons felt very confident 101 times (79%) when assessing diagnosis and 107 times (84%) when assessing treatment plan. The mean and median patient satisfaction was 89% and 94%, respectively. Patient satisfaction was significantly higher for video over audio-only visits (P < 0.05). Patient satisfaction was not significantly different with patient age, location of chief complaint (cervical or thoracolumbar), or visit type (new, preoperative, or postoperative). Providers reported that 76% of the time they would choose to perform the visit again in telehealth format. Sixty percent of patients valued the visit cost as the same or slightly less than an in-office consultation. Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate the feasibility and high patient/provider satisfaction of virtual spine surgical consultation, and appropriate reimbursement and balanced regulation for spine telehealth care is essential to continue this existing work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e781-e789
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Volume154
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Spine surgery
  • Telehealth
  • Virtual consultation

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