The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in seismic changes in healthcare delivery. As a result of this, hospital footfall required to be reduced due to increased risk of transmission of infection. To ensure patients can safely access healthcare, we introduced orthopaedic clinic telephone consultations in our busy district general hospital.
To investigate patients’ and clinicians’ perspective of telephone consultations during COVID-19, and whether this method of consultation could be a viable option in the post pandemic future.
This is a single centre, prospective study conducted in a busy National Health Service (NHS) district general hospital. In May 2020, 100 non- consecutive adult patients were contacted by independent investigators within 48 hours of their orthopaedic clinic telephone consultation to complete a telephone satisfaction questionnaire. The questions assessed satisfaction regarding various aspects of the consultation including overall satisfaction and willingness to use this approach long term. Satisfaction and perspective of 25 clinicians conducting these telephone consultations was also assessed via an online survey tool.
93% of patients were overall satisfied with telephone consultations and 79% were willing to continue this method of consultation post- pandemic. Patients found telephone consultations to reduce personal cost and inconvenience associated with attending a hospital appointment. 72% of clinicians reported overall satisfaction with this service and 80% agreed that telephone consultations should be used in the future. The majority found it less laborious in time and administration in comparison to face to face consultations.
Patients and clinicians expressed their desire for video consultations as a method of further improving their experience with remote consultations.
Our study has shown that telephone consultations are a safe and rapid method of adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving the aim of reducing hospital footfall. This method of consultation has resulted in immense clinician and patient satisfaction. Our findings suggest that this tool has benefits in post pandemic healthcare delivery. It has also highlighted that telephone consultations can act as a steppingstone to the introduction of the more complex platform of video consulting.