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Journal of Investigative Medicine ; 71(1):89, 2023.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-2319983


Purpose of Study: COVID-19 introduced a rapid shift to video telehealth patient visits. At our institution in Loma Linda, California, less than 13% of hand surgery patients were seen in person at the height of the pandemic, with the majority of patients being triaged to video telehealth appointments. This was challenging for the hand surgeon due to the complexity of a hand patient's physical examination. During this time, it was critical to rapidly develop, test, and implement a tool to assist the surgeon in evaluating and triaging patients effectively over video. The purpose of this project was to develop and implement a tool that would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of video telehealth visits for hand and wrist patients. Methods Used: We developed an informational packet that was sent to patients prior to their video telehealth visit containing a letter of explanation, a new patient questionnaire, and a step-by-step guide with photos for a virtual hand examination. The letter explained the guide's purpose and provided additional instructions to ensure visit effectiveness- remove jewelry and watches, find a space with optimal lighting, wear a short sleeve shirt, etc. In the virtual hand examination guide, we explained common physical examination maneuvers and The Ten Test to assist with virtual sensation assessment. A short "how-to" description in lay terms was given for each of the physical examination maneuvers and included corresponding photographs to maximize patient comprehension. Patients were instructed to read the guide prior to their video visit and to have it available during the visit. Summary of Results: We began to implement this tool in our hand practice for new and established patients in March 2020, and we have since found that our virtual hand examination has become more thorough and efficient. Surgeon satisfaction with this tool has been high, and patients have reported satisfaction and comfort. Patients have felt that it increased their understanding of the virtual physical examination process, decreased frustration, and have stated that they would recommend this guide to other patients scheduled to undergo a video telehealth visit. Conclusion(s): The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a rapid shift from in-person visits to video telehealth consultations. This subsequently changed the way in which hand surgeons could evaluate their patients. The procedural changes that were adopted during the pandemic can be viewed as a sign of things to come, and we anticipate that video telehealth visits will continue to be commonplace in the future. In the wake of this change, we feel confident that this tool equips the hand surgeon well for an effective and efficient virtual examination and ultimately contributes to patient satisfaction.