Skip to main content

08-11-2020 | ACR 2020 | Conference coverage | News

Telemedicine may improve rheumatology appointment attendance

Author: Claire Barnard


medwireNews: Since telemedicine was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of rheumatology appointment cancellations and non-attendances have decreased, US research suggests.

Speaking in a poster presentation at the ACR Convergence 2020 virtual meeting, Reem Alkilany (MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio) said that rheumatology outpatient clinics in the MetroHealth System previously offered in-person appointments only, but remote video and telephone consultations were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic.

Following the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions, “our institution goal was to offer access to healthcare while avoiding in-person face-to-face visits,” said the presenter, noting that in-person appointments were limited to those that were medically necessary.

Alkilany reported that the average appointment cancellation rate between January 3 and March 15, 2020 (period 1) – the pre-COVID-19 period when only in-person visits were available – was 31%. Following the introduction of telemedicine, the average cancellation rate between March 16 and May 31, 2020 (period 2) was 55% for in-person and “almost zero” for remote appointments, with just one of 825 telemedicine appointments cancelled.

There was also an improvement in rates of attendance at booked appointments following the introduction of telemedicine; there were 220 appointment no-shows in period 1, decreasing to 191 (121 in-person and 70 telemedicine appointments) in period 2. Accordingly, the number of completed appointments rose from 930 in period 1 to 1038 (754 telemedicine and 284 face-to-face) in period 2.

“Our study suggests that telemedicine visits were relatively well received by patients,” Alkilany said in a statement to the press.

“Although in-person visits cannot be always replaced by phone or video visits, we believe that telemedicine’s potential to increase the accessibility and convenience of healthcare makes it an essential component of the future of medicine,” she added.

And she recommended that “more studies are still needed to investigate telemedicine’s impact on other parameters, including patient satisfaction, patients’ experience, [and] their access to electronic devices,” as well as healthcare providers’ experience and health-related outcomes.

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2020 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

8 November 2020: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

ACR Convergence virtual meeting; 5–9 November 2020