Purpose: Adoption of telemedicine (TME) in surgical specialties, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, has previously been slow. The purpose of this prospective, observational, single institution study is to evaluate surgeon and caregiver perspectives of TMEs during the pandemic.
Methods: Surveys were distributed to surgical faculty regarding perceptions of TME early during the pandemic and 2 months later. Caregivers (or patients > 18 years old) were asked after each TME to complete a survey regarding perceptions of TMEs.
Results: Surveys were distributed to 73 surgeons. Response rates were 71% initially and 63% at follow-up. Sixty-eight percent reported no prior TME experience. No significant differences were noted in the overall satisfaction. An inverse relationship between surgeon age and satisfaction at the follow-up survey was identified (p = 0.007). Additional surveys were distributed to 616 caregivers or patients (response rate 13%). Seventy-two percent reported no prior experience with TME and 79% described TME as similar to an in-person visit. Audiovisual satisfaction of the TME was higher in greater income households (p = 0.02).
Conclusions: Pre-pandemic experience with TME was low in both groups; however, experiences were perceived as satisfactory. Positive experiences with TME may encourage increased utilization in the future, although demographic variations may impact satisfaction with TME.
Trial registration: Unique identifier NCT04376710 at Clinicaltrials.gov (5/6/2020).
Keywords: COVID-19; Pediatrics; Surgery; Telemedicine.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.