(UroToday.com) Given the drastic measures to protect patients and physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a rapid increase in the utilization of teleconsultation for patients with urologic malignancies. At the 2021 European Association of Urology (EAU) Section of Oncological Urology (ESOU) Virtual Annual Meeting, Dr. Juan Gomez Rivas discussed the preliminary assessment of patient and physician satisfaction with the use of teleconsultation in urology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Gomez Rivas notes that there are four stakeholders when discussing teleconsultations, including (i) patients and their families, (ii) physicians and other healthcare providers, (iii) healthcare facilities, and (iv) insurance companies. For patients and their families there are many benefits:
- Saved time by avoiding travel
- Saved money by avoiding travel
- Reduced stress by staying in the comfort and safety of their own home
- Greater efficiency and satisfaction with the health care
- Patients in rural areas have fast and easy access to more healthcare services
For providers, there are also several advantages:
- Can significantly expand their potential patient base and improve the quality of rural health with no additional travel
- Are at lower risk for burnout because they can interact with patients more frequently and manage patients more efficiently
- Can more easily participate in training and education without traveling to multi-day events
Teleconsultations also have several benefits to the health system, including (i) reduction in the spread of SARS-CoV2 from infected patients with or without symptoms, (ii) reduction in contamination of uninfected people, (iii) reduction in transmission to hospital workers and hospital surfaces, and (iv) making it possible for health care professionals who are positive for COVID-19 or at high risk for adverse outcomes to work while they are still isolated at home.
In a study assessing telemedicine usage among urologists during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubin et al.1 investigated current telemedicine usage by urologists, urologists' perceptions on the necessity of in-person clinic appointments, the usability of telemedicine, and the current barriers to its implementation. There were 620 urologists from 58 different countries and six continents that participated in the survey. Prior to COVID-19, 15.8% of urologists surveyed were using telemedicine in their clinical practices, however, during the pandemic, that proportion increased to 46.1%. Of the urologists without telemedicine experience, interest in telemedicine usage increased from 43.7% to 80.8% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, among urologists that used telemedicine during the pandemic, 80.9% were interested in continuing to use it in their practice.
In a Spanish experience with teleconsultation, Leibar Tamayo et al.2 reported on 200 patients that were contacted by telephone to answer a survey on the quality of teleconsultation. Of the surveyed patients, 42% had canceled diagnostic tests, 59% had canceled medical consultations, 3.5% had canceled treatments and 1% had canceled interventions. Ten percent reported a worsening of urological symptoms during confinement. Teleconsultation overall satisfaction level was 9 (IQI 8-10), and 61.5% of respondents consider teleconsultation as a “health care option” after the healthcare crisis.
Dr. Gomez Rivas concluded his presentation discussing the impact and experience with teleconsultations by highlighting the #visualabstract of the "Recommendations of the European Association of Urology" paper published in European Urology:3
Presented by: Juan Gomez Rivas, MD, PhD, La Paz University Hospital, Madrid, Spain
Written by: Zachary Klaassen, MD, MSc, Urologic Oncologist, Assistant Professor of Urology, Georgia Cancer Center, Augusta University/Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, Twitter: @zklaassen_md during the 18th Meeting of the EAU Section of Oncological Urology (ESOU21), January 29-31, 2021
1. Dubin, Justin M., W. Austin Wyant, Navin C. Balaji, William Lk Ong, Reda H. Kettache, Malik Haffaf, Skander Zouari et al. "Telemedicine Usage Among Urologists During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cross-Sectional Study." Journal of medical Internet research 22, no. 11 (2020): e21875.
2. Tamayo, A. Leibar, E. Linares Espinós, E. Ríos González, C. Trelles Guzmán, M. Álvarez-Maestro, C. de Castro Guerín, E. Fernández-Pascual et al. "Evaluation of teleconsultation system in the urological patient during the COVID-19 pandemic." Actas Urológicas Españolas (English Edition) 44, no. 9 (2020): 617-622.
3. Socarrás, Moises Rodriguez, Stacy Loeb, Jeremy Yuen-Chun Teoh, Maria J. Ribal, Jarka Bloemberg, James Catto, James N’Dow, Hendrik Van Poppel, and Juan Gómez Rivas. "Telemedicine and smart working: recommendations of the European Association of Urology." European Urology (2020).