AIM: For patients, an outpatient review can lead to a stressful journey to the hospital with the resultant risks associated with breaching social distancing. Despite this, video-consultations (VC) have not been frequently used in colorectal practice. We assessed outcomes, including the economic and environmental impact of a VC clinic for new colorectal referrals.
METHODS: A prospective observational study, 50 consecutive patients attending a VC colorectal appointment were reviewed between March 2019 and February 2020. Face-to-face appointments during the same time period were also assessed. The distance, time, cost and carbon emissions of journeys were estimated using web-based resources. Estimated loss of earnings used data from the Office for National Statistics. The subsequent management plans were also recorded.
RESULTS: Of 50 patients using VC, 40 used home devices and 10 used equipment in their local medical facility. Three patients had technology difficulties and converted to telephone review. The failure to attend VC appointments was less than that for face-to-face appointment (4% versus 6.1%). VC appointments saved 6685 miles travelled (range 2-364 miles), 148 hours travelling time and £1767 cost. Additional savings for loss of earnings were approximately £33.56 per patient. Carbon emissions saved 4659 C02e lb, equivalent to over 250,000 charges of a smartphone.
CONCLUSION: There were significant savings related to travel, minimising time and costs for patients who choose to use the service in addition to the environmental benefits. In this current climate video consultation clinics have a central role in outpatient care for both new and follow up patients.
- patient consultations
- video consultaion