Concordance between real-time telemedicine assessments and face-to-face consultations in paediatric otolaryngology

Med J Aust. 2008 Apr 21;188(8):457-60. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2008.tb01715.x.


Objective: To determine agreement between diagnoses and management plans made during an initial videoconference appointment and subsequent face-to-face consultations in paediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery. DESIGN AND SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A paediatric ENT clinic servicing patients from Bundaberg, Queensland, was conducted through the Centre for Online Health at the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) in Brisbane. Between January 2004 and February 2006, 152 consultations with 97 patients were carried out. We retrospectively audited patients' charts to compare the diagnosis and management plan formulated at the initial videoconference and the eventual diagnosis and surgical management after face-to-face consultation. The clinical outcomes for children who were not recommended for surgery at the RCH were ascertained by telephone survey.

Main outcome measures: Agreement between videoconference and face-to-face consultation findings.

Results: Of the 97 patients, 75 were recommended for surgical management at the RCH. The remaining patients were either referred back to their general practitioner (9), followed up by the regional paediatrician (10) or lost to follow-up (3). At the conclusion of the study, seven patients were still awaiting surgery and were excluded. Among the 68 patients seen via videoconference and in person, the recorded diagnosis was the same in 99% of cases (67). Surgical management decisions were the same in 93% of cases (63). Telephone follow-up with paediatricians and GPs confirmed that there were no missed diagnoses or ongoing ENT-related problems in the 19 patients referred back to their care.

Conclusions: Decisions about ENT surgical interventions for children assessed during videoconference clinics are in close agreement with decisions made by the same surgeon at face-to-face consultation. The way is open to employ telemedicine more widely for pre-admission ENT assessment. However, as in any telemedicine work, widespread application requires care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Otolaryngology / methods*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures
  • Queensland
  • ROC Curve
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Time Factors