Telehealth Safe Alternative to Post-Op Visit, Study Finds

Telehealth appointments are a safe substitution for postoperative appointments for certain ambulatory surgery patients, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

Researchers tracked the number of patients accepting a telehealth follow-up and the number of telehealth patients presenting complications 30 days after surgery in a group of approximately 150 patients who had surgery between October 2011 and June 2012 as well as between September 2012 and October 2012.

The telehealth follow-up consisted of a physician assistant call two weeks after surgery. During the call, the physician assistant administered an assessment designed to screen for infection or trouble returning to daily activities. If the assessment did not detect problems, the patient was "discharged" from the telehealth appointment.

Of the more than 80 patients accepting a telehealth-only follow-up, only three complications were reported. Most patients expressed high levels of satisfaction with the telehealth follow-up, according to the study.

Clinic time saved was used for scheduling other patients, according to the study authors.

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