The new 'normal': Rapid adoption of telemedicine in orthopaedics during the COVID-19 pandemic

Injury. 2020 Dec;51(12):2816-2821. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2020.09.009. Epub 2020 Sep 16.


Background: Telemedicine provides a safe and effective means for the delivery of care by physicians amongst many subspecialties. Historically, orthopaedic practices in the United States have not widely utilized telemedicine for the delivery of orthopaedic care. As technology improves the adoption and utilization of telemedicine will likely grow, especially in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our study aims to assess patient and surgeon satisfaction and efficacy of telemedicine during a rapid adoption due to the global pandemic.

Methods: All patients who completed a telemedicine encounter (telephone or video) with an orthopaedic surgeon were contacted. Patients were individually contacted after their visit, and a standardized validated post-visit satisfaction survey was completed. Orthopaedic surgeons completed a standardized post-encounter survey after each visit. Pre-COVID-19 patient satisfaction data was used for comparison.

Results: Orthopaedic surgeons completed 612 telehealth encounters either via phone or video consultation between April 6, 2020 and May 22, 2020. 95% of patients rated both surgeon sensitivity to their needs and response to their concerns as 'good' or 'very good.' 93% of patients reported they would participate in a telemedicine encounter again. Surgeons reported high satisfaction with telemedicine encounters (80%, 86% phone and video respectively), and that 78.4% of the time a telemedicine encounter was successful in replacing an in-person visit.

Conclusion: Patients and orthopaedic surgeons documented high levels of satisfaction with telehealth encounters during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Telemedicine does not appear to be a replacement for all in-person clinic encounters, however, when used in the appropriate context demonstrated favourable results.

Level of evidence: Level 4 Study.

Keywords: Covid-19; Novel coronavirus; Satisfaction; Telehealth; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Ambulatory Care / standards
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Ambulatory Care / trends
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Communicable Disease Control / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Surgeons / statistics & numerical data
  • Orthopedics / methods*
  • Orthopedics / standards
  • Orthopedics / statistics & numerical data
  • Orthopedics / trends
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data
  • Telemedicine / standards
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Telemedicine / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology