Pilot trial of telemedicine in urology: Video vs. telephone consultations
Keywords:Telemedicine, Video, Telephone, Pilot
Introduction: In the past year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person clinical activities have been drastically restricted, driving the already growing interest in the use of telemedicine in the urban setting to reduce unnecessary commute. Therefore, there has been a rapid shift to telephone and video consultations in outpatient practice. We sought to conduct a pilot trial to establish feasibility and acceptability of video consultations as an alternative to telephone consultations in urology patients to inform the design of a future randomized controlled trial.
Methods: We conducted a single-center, prospective, non-randomized pilot trial comparing telephone consultations (TC) vs. video consultations (VC) for urology outpatient visits. Two patient questionnaires were used to collect demographic information, as well as data about acceptability, feasibility, satisfaction, cost, and issues with telemedicine. Questions were identical for both VC and TC except for certain questions inquiring about issues specific to each technology.
Results: Forty-eight TC and 66 VC urology patients were included in this study. Patients believed that telemedicine visits did not significantly hinder their ability to communicate with their urologists and that these visits would be associated with cost savings. There was 1/48 (2.1%) failed TC and 16/66 (24.2%) failed VC. VC failures were concentrated at the beginning of the trial prior to giving feedback to the VC platform creators, with only one failure occurring thereafter. When comparing TC to VC, differences between the two patient groups were small but tended to be in favor of VC. Patients’ satisfaction was greater with VC compared to TC. Both modalities were associated with many cost benefits for patients.
Conclusions: Despite more technical issues with VC, this modality is feasible and acceptable to patients, likely due to improved shared decision-making with VC. Future considerations for trials comparing VC and TC should include adequate Wi-Fi infrastructure and choice of platform. For the VC, continuous knowledge transfer between investigators and platform engineers plays an important role in limiting failed encounters.
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