Telehealth shines in post-surgery care of U.S. veterans

"No post-operation infections were missed during the video or telephone visits."
By Jack McCarthy
08:01 AM

Patients can receive the same level of care via phone or video after surgery as they can sitting in their doctor's office.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Nashville evaluated data collected between May 2014 and June 2014 from 23 veterans seen three times after a simple operation that would require only a night or so in the hospital. One visit was conducted via video, the second over the telephone and the third was an in-person office visit.

"The researchers found that no post-operation infections were missed during the video or telephone visits," the researchers wrote in an article published in the American Medical Association's journal JAMA Surgery.

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In addition, 69 percent of the participants expressed a preference for telehealth consults over the traditional in-office visit, particularly those living long distances away from the hospital.

"These kinds of methods are really important in the climate we're in now," lead author Michael Vella, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told Reuters. "So I think anything you can do to save money, see more patients and improve access to care is really important."

While saying that the study provided valuable insights, Vella also cautioned that the sample was small and future research of telehealth implementations should provide more information.

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