The Efficacy of Telehealth for the Treatment of Spinal Disorders: Patient-Reported Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic

HSS J. 2020 Nov 4:1-7. doi: 10.1007/s11420-020-09808-x. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The use of telehealth saw a rapid surge during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. There remains little data on how effectively telehealth replicates traditional office visits in the treatment of spinal disorders and how telehealth is perceived by patients with spinal disorders.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: We sought to evaluate patient satisfaction with telehealth visits as a platform for delivering care for the treatment of spinal pathology.

METHODS: Patients undergoing a telehealth visit with providers specializing in the treatment of spinal disorders (one surgeon and two physiatrists) were provided with an anonymous, online survey. Data on patient satisfaction, effectiveness of the telehealth visit (in comparison with in-person visits), and clarity of communication were collected through 5-point Likert scales; visit characteristics and free-text responses were also collected.

RESULTS: Eighty-four patients responded to the survey. Their attitudes were largely positive, with an overall mean patient satisfaction score of 4.79. Patients gave high scores for clarity of communication during the visit, and for satisfaction with the formulation of treatment plans and their ability to ask questions, they gave the lowest scores to the effectiveness of telemedicine in replacing an in-person visit and ease of interface navigation.

CONCLUSIONS: The high overall patient satisfaction reported by our patients seeking care for a spinal pathology supports the growing body of evidence promoting the use of telehealth for orthopedic care. Further research is needed in a standardized telehealth examination of patients with spinal disorders.

PMID:33169072 | PMC:PMC7640578 | DOI:10.1007/s11420-020-09808-x