THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The amount of time spent with a provider is similar for postoperative follow-up visits performed with either an in-person visit (IPV) or virtual visit (VV), according to a study presented at the annual clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons, held virtually from Oct. 3 to 7.

Caroline Reinke, M.D., from Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina, and colleagues compared total visit time and time spent with a provider between IPV and VV for postoperative follow-up. The analysis included 414 patients undergoing laparoscopic appendectomy or cholecystectomy at two hospitals in an urban setting who were randomly assigned to VV or IPV (2:1) for follow-up care.

The researchers found that postdischarge visits were completed for 65 percent of randomly assigned patients; of these patients, 55 VV crossed over to IPV. For IPVs, total clinic time was longer (58 versus 19 minutes; P ≤ 0.01). Provider time was similar for VV and IPV visits (8.3 versus 8.2 minutes; P = 0.91). Mean percent of IPV time with a provider was 8 percent when including driving time compared with 44 percent for VV. The groups showed similar satisfaction (94 percent versus 98 percent).

“For patients who are hesitant about the value of a virtual visit, knowing they will get the same amount of time with a provider and satisfaction with the encounter may increase their interest,” the authors write.

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