Patients See Benefit with Telemedicine Visits Compared with In-Person Visits

June 9, 2020
Hannah Slater
Hannah Slater

It was suggested that telemedicine for patients in an interventional radiology group increases access to care and allows for more efficient use of physician time and resources.

Telemedicine significantly reduced the time to biopsy, travel time, and cost for patients in an interventional radiology group compared to in-person visits, according to a study presented at the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Virtual Scientific Program.

Moreover, the investigators suggested that telemedicine for this patient population increases access to care and allows for more efficient use of physician time and resources.

Telemedicine visits included in the study were performed by a physician or advanced practice provider (PA or NP) at a single institution, academic medical center to patients at 3 Memorial Sloan Kettering regional locations in New York and New Jersey. Total patient encounters and data from November 2017 to October 2019 were assessed.

The primary outcome measures were wait time from the Interventional Radiology referral to biopsy procedure visits, patient travel time, and travel cost, stratified by in-person versus telemedicine visit. Round-trip travel distance and costs for patients were calculated by determining the offset travel and cost (economic) benefit was the sum of federal cost per mile for travel, toll and parking costs, and doctor visit lost wages.

Overall, 172 telemedicine visits were included in the study. There was a significant reduction observed in time from referral to biopsy for telemedicine visits compared to in-person visits (12 vs 17 days, P < 0.0001). Specifically, for every one-mile increase in distance, the patient saved approximately 1.1 minutes. In total, patients saved an average of 98 minutes per telemedicine visit vs if it were an in-person Manhattan visit (P < 0.0001).

Even further, patients who did telemedicine visits had to travel 367 less hours than an in-person visit and saved a total of 11,222 miles that they did not have to travel. Moreover, the mean distance to travel to a telemedicine visit was only 57 miles, whereas patients would have traveled 101 miles, on average, to an in-person visit. Patients who did telemedicine visits also accrued $14,652 in economic benefits caused by reduced travel costs and lost wages from work.

Moving forward, it is unclear as to what capacity telemedicine will be used once hospitals have the ability to return to a normal patient schedule. However, physicians have made clear that telemedicine will continue to be utilized even after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

References:

Shah S, Erinjeri J, Guan QX, Otto C, Solomon SB. Telemedicine visits reduce time to biopsy, travel time and costs for interventional radiology patients. Presented at: 2020 ASCO Virtual Scientific Meeting. Abstract #2082.