Effectivity of Orthopaedic Telemedicine Consultation During Pandemic
Telemedicine is a broad term and can be simplistically defined as provision of medical services through distance. This definition encompasses many applications, such as diagnostic asynchronous evaluation, continuous monitoring using biosensors, and synchronous video consultations, as well as multiple variations on each theme. Currently it can be considered a hot topic, and the adoption is skyrocketing, virtually in any medical specialty and service.
Although the boom was brought up by widely available broadband internet, the history of telemedicine began more than 50 years ago. Advances in telecommunication technologies over the last decade have changed the way healthcare services can be provided. Using the same taxonomy of telemedicine, the application of communications technologies to provide healthcare remotely and at a distance in the field of orthopedics is being called “tele-orthopedics”.
Orthopedics is a speciality that can benefit greatly from telemedicine. In addition to being cost-effective, it presents good patient-reported outcomes and is considered an opportunity with potential to be explored. Since COVID-19 pandemic is tipping point in telemedicine adoption curve, which now shows exponential growth in most countries, there are multiple appropriate telemedicine applications suggested for orthopedic practice, such as teleconsultation for diagnosis, treatment, and patient follow-up; virtual rehabilitation; or even offering specialized advice in a teleconsultation for non-specialist doctors
History and Potential Usage for Telemedicine in Orthopedics
Potential uses of communication technologies in healthcare are huge, but what is attracting most attention of those interested in this phenomenon is its use for performing teleconsultations in daily clinical practice. No adverse outcomes were observed, and final suggestion of authors was that telemedicine can be an option where orthopedic physicians are not available.
Teleconsultations take place by video-conference between the doctor and the patient on prior consultation. Since people are apprehensive about visiting clinics and hospitals during the pandemic, teleconsultations have come as a boon. Thanks to technology. Video calls help the patient connect with the doctor in a virtual clinic setup. The doctor then diagnoses the patient’s condition and then prescribes the course of the treatment. The cost factor is minimal and very negligible in using this technology.
Remote diagnosis of fractures is done successfully on an outpatient basis in many countries. Doctors remotely followed non-surgical fractures successfully from a technical point of view, in a rural area. They reported that undisplaced fractures and postoperative wound reviews were commonly seen and considered well managed in such situations.
COVID-19 pandemic strongly intensified the entire process described so far in telemedicine for orthopedic areas. Patients undergoing urgent outpatient follow-up, the orthopedist’s own presence in the health system has been reinvented as a result of this situation. The importance of telemedicine appears even more necessary as a tool for orthopedics. Now, with the growth of telemedicine adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic, these facilities have expanded. Organization of telemedicine services is mandatory in post-pandemic time, and clinical pathways must be adapted for orthopedic care. Many orthopedic patients are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and their care must be adapted.
Telemedicine for orthopedics has safely expanded its operations with high satisfaction and cost-effectiveness. It can be used in several scenarios as postoperative follow-up of selected cases, fracture follow-up, and even in pediatric cases. Remote diagnosis of fractures is done successfully in many countries. Standardization of virtual orthopedic examination for some musculoskeletal conditions have been developed. Remote care had dramatically increased in 2020 and will continue to expand due to the natural technological development and by change and obliteration of habits that were accelerated exponentially after COVID-19 crisis.