J Card Surg. 2022 Apr 5. doi: 10.1111/jocs.16472. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a drastic increase in the use of telemedicine. There is little information about the effectiveness of telemedicine in cardiac surgery. We examined clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction among patients who had in-person versus telemedicine preoperative appointments in a subspecialized mitral valve surgical practice.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed all patients who had elective mitral valve operations between January 2019 and February 2021. Patients were categorized into 2 groups based on the format of the preoperative appointment (telemedicine or in-person). Preoperative characteristics and clinical outcomes were compared between the two groups. All patients who had a telemedicine appointment were sent an online survey to assess their satisfaction with the process.
RESULTS: Among 286 patients analyzed, 197 (69%) had in-person preoperative evaluations and 89 (31%) had telemedicine evaluations. The in-person and telemedicine groups had similar preoperative and operative characteristics. Outcomes did not differ between the 2 groups, including ventilation time (3.7 vs. 4.1 h, p = .399), total length of stay (5 vs. 5 days, p = .949), 30-day mortality (0% vs. 1%, p = .311), and readmissions within 30 days (13% vs. 8%, p = .197). Among patients who completed the survey, 91% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the telemedicine preoperative appointment.
CONCLUSION: Patients who had telemedicine preoperative appointments before mitral valve operations during the COVID-19 pandemic had similarly excellent clinical outcomes to patients who had in-person preoperative appointments before the pandemic. Patients had relatively high levels of satisfaction with telemedicine and almost half preferred telemedicine for future visits.