With health care practice consolidation, the increasing geographic scope of health care systems, and the advancement of mobile telecommunications, there is increasing interest in telemedicine-based health care consultations. Anesthesiology has had experience with telemedicine consultation for preoperative evaluation since 2004, but the majority of studies have been conducted in rural settings. There is a paucity of literature of use in metropolitan areas. In this article, we describe the implementation of a telemedicine-based anesthesia preoperative evaluation and report the program’s patient satisfaction, clinical case cancellation rate outcomes, and cost savings in a large metropolitan area (Los Angeles, CA).
This is a descriptive study of a telemedicine-based preoperative anesthesia evaluation process in an academic medical center within a large metropolitan area. In a 2-year period, we evaluated 419 patients scheduled for surgery by telemedicine and 1785 patients who were evaluated in-person.
Day-of-surgery case cancellations were 2.95% and 3.23% in the telemedicine and the in-person cohort, respectively. Telemedicine patients avoided a median round trip driving distance of 63 miles (Q1 24; Q3 119) and a median time saved of 137 (Q1 95; Q3 195) and 130 (Q1 91; Q3 237) minutes during morning and afternoon traffic conditions, respectively. Patients experienced time-based savings, particularly from traveling across a metropolitan area, which amounted to $67 of direct and opportunity cost savings. From patient satisfaction surveys, 98% (129 patients out of 131 completed surveys) of patients who were consulted via telemedicine were satisfied with their experience.
This study demonstrates the implementation of a telemedicine-based preoperative anesthesia evaluation from an academic medical center in a metropolitan area with high patient satisfaction, cost savings, and without increase in day-of-procedure case cancellations.
- Question: Can telemedicine for preoperative consultations be accomplished in a metropolitan area?
- Findings: Preoperative telemedicine consultations can be accomplished in a metropolitan academic medical center with low case cancellation rate, high patient satisfaction, and patient cost savings.
- Meaning: Preoperative telemedicine consultations can be used successfully as an adjunct to in-person consultations before surgery.