Many prefer online postoperative care to in-person care

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Chances are, your residents prefer to obtain some postoperative care from the comfort of their own living space rather than travel to a doctor's office, according to the results of a new study published online as an “article in press” on the Journal of the American College of Surgeons website. Most people who undergo routine, uncomplicated surgeries prefer to consult with their surgeons after the operations online, according to the study, which will appear in the print publication of the journal later this year.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, tracked 50 people who completed both online and in-person visits after their operations. The patients underwent elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy, laparoscopic ventral hernia repair, umbilical hernia repair or inguinal hernia repair.

Seventy-six percent of the group said that online visits were acceptable as the only form of follow-up care. Further, for 68% of patients thought that online and in-person visits were equally effective.

“The data revealed potential advantages of online postoperative care, including convenient access for patients, decreased patient travel times and surgeon efficiency gains,” the study authors said. These benefits must be weighed against other aspects, however, they said, adding that some surgeries will continue to require in-person assessments.

“We think the key is designing our tools for online care and developing appropriate standards for adequate online assessment so that providers can determine when online care is adequate and when in-person care may be needed,” lead study author Kristy Kummerow Broman, MD, MPH, said.

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