Digital medical history implementation to triage orthopaedic patients during COVID-19: Findings from a rapid cycle, semi-randomised A/B testing quality improvement project

This article was originally published here

Musculoskeletal Care. 2021 Nov 30. doi: 10.1002/msc.1605. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted musculoskeletal care. To better triage the notable backlog of patients, we assessed whether a digital medical history (DMH), a summary of health information and concerns completed by the patient prior to a clinic visit, could be routinely collected and utilised.

METHODS: We analysed 640 patients using a rapid cycle, semi-randomised A/B testing approach. Four rapid cycles of different randomised interventions were conducted across five unique patient groups. Descriptive statistics were used to report DMH completion rates by cycle/patient group and intervention. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine whether age or anatomic injury location was associated DMH completion.

ETHICAL APPROVAL: N/A (Quality Improvement Project) RESULTS: Across all patients, the DMH completion rate was 48% (307/640). Phone calls were time consuming and resource intensive without an increased completion rate. The highest rate of DMH completion was among patients who were referred and called the clinic themselves (78% of patients [63 out of 81 patients]). Across all patients, increasing age (odds ratio [OR]: 0.985 (95% CI: 0.976-0.995), p = 0.002), patients with back concerns (OR: 0.395 (95% CI: 0.234-0.666), p = 0.001), and patients with non-specific/other musculoskeletal concerns (OR: 0.331 (95% CI: 0.176-0.623), p = 0.001) were associated with decreased odds of DMH completion.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: DMHs can be valuable in helping triage orthopaedic patients in resource-strapped settings, times of crisis, or as we transition towards value-based health care delivery. However, further work is needed to continue to increase the completion rate about 50%.

PMID:34846805 | DOI:10.1002/msc.1605