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Ann R Coll Surg Engl ; 103(8): 599-603, 2021 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1910438


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded radical changes in service delivery. Our centre adopted the use of outpatient telemedicine to reduce close-contact interactions between patients and staff. We hypothesised that incidental gains may be associated with this. We evaluated financial, practical and environmental implications of substituting virtual clinics (VCs) for in-person urology outpatient appointments. METHODS: VCs were studied over a 3-month period. Based on patient-reported 'usual mode of transport' to the hospital, travel distance, time, petrol and parking costs, and the carbon emissions avoided by virtue of remote consultations were calculated. The underlying symptom/diagnosis and the 'effectiveness' of the VC were evaluated. RESULTS: Of 1,016 scheduled consultations, 736 (72.44%) were conducted by VCs over the study period. VCs resulted in an agreed treatment plan in 98.4% of a representative patient sample. The use of VCs was associated with an overall travel distance saving for patients of 31,038 miles (49,951km) over 3 months, with an average round-trip journey of 93.8 miles (151km) avoided for each rural-dwelling patient and an average financial saving of £25.91 (€28.70) per rural-dwelling car traveller. An estimated 1,257.8 hours of patient time were saved by avoidance of travel and clinic waiting times. Based on car-travelling patients alone, a 6.07-tonne reduction in carbon emissions was achieved with the use of VCs. CONCLUSIONS: In appropriate clinical circumstances, VCs appear to provide efficiency across a number of domains. Future healthcare may involve offering outpatients the option of telemedicine as an alternative to physical attendance.

Cost Savings , Remote Consultation , Travel , Vehicle Emissions , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19 , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , United Kingdom , Urology , Young Adult
Ir Med J ; 113(8):157, 2020.
Article in English | PubMed | ID: covidwho-1136766


Aim COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented challenge to healthcare systems. We aimed to observe the impact on urological care delivery in an Irish university hospital. Methods Data on urological activity was prospectively collected for 3 months from March 2020. A retrospective review of the same period in 2019 was performed for control data. Results Over the 2020 study period, 356 urological admissions were recorded;a 23.1% decrease from the 2019 corresponding period(n=463). A 21.7% decrease in flexible cystoscopies was seen (162 versus 207). 125 theatre cases (36 off-site) were performed in the 2020 period, versus 151 in 2019. Emergency case load remained stable, with 69 cases in the 2020 period. The percentage of trainee-performed cases was preserved. COVID-era outpatient activity increased, to involve 559 clinic consultations compared to 439 the preceding year;a reflection of annual growth in service demand and facilitated by virtual clinic application (n=403). There were 490 instances of patients cancelling/failing to attend outpatient appointments, compared to 335 in 2019. Conclusion The Irish COVID-19 outbreak has created obstacles for urological care. Nonetheless, urgent/emergent urological cases persist. Our unit has managed this to-date with flexible adaptation of service delivery. The global challenge posed by COVID-19 will demand ongoing resourcefulness to minimise impact on patients with time-sensitive urological conditions.