News Feature | October 14, 2015

Patients Prefer Telehealth Follow-Ups

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

CMS Increases Telemedicine Reimbursement

In a study of veterans post-surgery, most preferred telehealth visits to in person follow up appointments.

A study published by JAMA Surgery found telehealth is as effective as in person follow-up visits for post-surgery veterans.

iHealth Beat reports researchers from the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Vanderbilt University, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Nashville used data from 23 veterans over more than a month. According to the report, researchers conducted three follow up visits with patients:

  • the first follow-up appointment was conducted by telephone
  • the second follow-up appointment was conducted via video
  • the third follow-up appointment was conducted during an in-person office visit

Sixty-nine percent of the participants preferred the telehealth follow-ups to in-person follow-ups. Those who favored telehealth visits tended to live farther from the hospital than those who preferred office visits.

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

“There will be patients who want to be seen, be reassured and want a doctor to check something out,” said Wren, a professor of surgery at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System in California. “There is a subset of patient that it’s not going to be appropriate for, but I think it's a great alternative for the vast majority of patients.”

“I think it’s just really important that people continue to look at it,” Vella said.