COVID-19 Reducing the Risks: Telemedicine is the New Norm for Surgical Consultations and Communications

Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2020 Sep 3. doi: 10.1007/s00266-020-01907-8. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic, has enforced a national lockdown in the UK which produced a paradigm shift about the way medical practitioners would perform consultations and communication with their patients. Senior authors realised that in lockdown there was only one option to see a patient: virtual consultation via telecommunication technologies. This paper will discuss the current benefits and considerations of Telemedicine, particularly in plastic surgery, to decipher the next route of action to further validate its use for future implementation.

METHOD: A detailed literature review was carried out comparing papers from 1992 to 2020. A survey of 122 consultant plastic surgeons found an encouraging result as 70% positively embraced the suggestion of Telemedicine in their current practice.

DISCUSSION: Telemedicine produced equal or improved patient satisfaction. Its utilisation reduced cost for patient, clinic and consultant. With accessibility to a large percentage of the population, Telemedicine enables infection control and adherence to social distancing during COVID-19. Considerations include dependability on internet access, legal aspects, cyber security and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the inability to perform palpation or physical inspection and psychological impacts on the patient.

CONCLUSION: In modern times, Telemedicine has become more accessible and COVID-19 has made it more applicable than ever before. More in-depth research is needed for validation of this technique within plastic surgery. While maintaining quality of care and a vital role in social distancing, there is a strong need for standardisation of Telemedicine processes, platforms, encryption and data storage.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE V: This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article. For a full description of these Evidence-Based Medicine ratings, please refer to the Table of Contents or the online Instructions to Authors .

PMID:32885319 | PMC:PMC7471549 | DOI:10.1007/s00266-020-01907-8