Purpose: Telemedicine has emerged as a viable option to in-person visits for the evaluation and management of surgical patients. Increased integration of telemedicine has allowed for greater access to care for specific patient populations but relative outcomes are unstudied. Given these limitations, we sought to evaluate the efficacy of telemedicine-based new patient preoperative encounters in comparison to in-person encounters. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of adult patients undergoing new patient evaluations from April 2020 to October 2021. Telemedicine visits consist of both video and telephone-based encounters. Visit types, patient demographics, preoperative diagnosis, travel time to the hospital, and prior imaging availability were reviewed. Results: A total of 276 new patient encounters were conducted (n = 108, 39% telemedicine). Indications for evaluation included inguinal hernia (n = 81, 30%), ventral hernia (n = 149, 54%) and groin or abdominal pain (n = 30, 11%). Patients undergoing telehealth evaluations were more likely to have greater travel distance to the hospital (91 km vs 29 km, p = 0.002) and have CT image-confirmed diagnoses at the initial visit (73 vs 47%, p < 0.001). Patients who were evaluated for a recurrent or incisional hernia were more likely to be seen through a telemedicine encounter (69 vs 45%, p < 0.001). Conclusions: We report the efficacy of telemedicine-based consultations for new patient preoperative evaluations related to hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction. Telemedicine is a useful modality for preoperative evaluation of new patients with hernia and advanced abdominal wall reconstruction needs. Understanding this patient population will allow us to optimize telemedicine encounters for new patients and improve access to care for patients in remote locations.
- Abdominal wall reconstruction
- Downstream care utilization
- Virtual care
ASJC Scopus subject areas