J Med Internet Res. 2022 Jul 27;24(7):e36996. doi: 10.2196/36996.
BACKGROUND: Telemedicine can help mitigate important health care challenges, such as demographic changes and the current COVID-19 pandemic, in high-income countries such as Germany. It gives physicians and patients the opportunity to interact via video consultations, regardless of their location, thus offering cost and time savings for both sides.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate whether telemedicine can be implemented efficiently in the follow-up care for patients in orthopedic and trauma surgery, with respect to patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction, and quality of care.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective randomized controlled trial in a German university hospital and enrolled 60 patients with different knee and shoulder conditions. For follow-up appointments, patients received either an in-person consultation in the clinic (control group) or a video consultation with their physician (telemedicine group). Patients’ and physicians’ subsequent evaluations of these follow-up appointments were collected and assessed using separate questionnaires.
RESULTS: On the basis of data from 52 consultations after 8 withdrawals, it was found that patients were slightly more satisfied with video consultations (mean 1.58, SD 0.643) than with in-clinic consultations (mean 1.64, SD 0.569), although the difference was not statistically significant (P=.69). After excluding video consultations marred by technical problems, no significant difference was found in physician satisfaction between the groups (mean 1.47, SD 0.516 vs mean 1.32, SD 0.557; P=.31). Further analysis indicated that telemedicine can be applied to broader groups of patients and that patients who have prior experience with telemedicine are more willing to use telemedicine for follow-up care.
CONCLUSIONS: Telemedicine can be an alternative and efficient form of follow-up care for patients in orthopedic and trauma surgery in Germany, and it has no significant disadvantages compared with in-person consultations in the clinic.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00023445; https://www.drks.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00023445.