STONY BROOK, NY, December 18, 2020 – A new study that records patient volume at Stony Brook Medicine’s Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center reveals that follow-up telehealth visits are highly effective during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, published in the December issue of the Annals of Surgery, serves as an example that surgical practices can continue to thrive with the help of telemedicine during the pandemic.
“Embracing telemedicine has been extremely effective for our practice and certainly can be for other practices during this pandemic,” says Aurora D. Pryor, MD, lead author on the paper, Director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, and Professor of Surgery at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “Our patients and multiple healthcare providers involved in metabolic health and bariatric surgery services find telemedicine to be effective, because in-person care is not necessary for certain aspects of patient care and follow-up, and telemedicine saves time and reduces exposure risks for patients and providers alike.”
The study, titled “The Impact of Telemedicine Adoption on a Multidisciplinary Bariatric Surgery Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” recorded patient volume categorized as pre-telehealth and post-telehealth – periods of a similar time range from February to April 2020. Post-telehealth is when the practice incorporated telehealth services according to pandemic guidelines.
A total of 506 patient visits were recorded in the pre-telehealth period, with 162 new patient visits and 344 follow-ups. A total of 413 patients were recorded in the post-telehealth period, with 77 new patient visits and 336 follow-ups.
After telehealth implementation, new visits for surgeons did decrease by 75 percent over the period, and follow-ups surgical visits decreased by 55 percent. However, during telehealth there was a 27 percent increase for other non-surgical practitioners involved in the Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center practice, an indication that patients have been able to continue their care to a high degree post-surgery or before elective surgery.
Dr. Pryor says this increase in patient follow-up visits for certain services because of telemedicine practices may prove to help bariatric surgery practices, and potentially other surgical practices, in their overall care of patients during the pandemic – especially since elective surgical practices have been profoundly impacted by the pandemic.
She and her coauthors conclude that although new patient visit volume decreased across the board, the increase in follow-up visits for some healthcare services provides a template for adoption of a multidisciplinary telehealth clinic in a post-pandemic world.
About Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University:
Established in 1971, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University includes 25 academic departments. The three missions of the School are to advance the understanding of the origins of human health and disease; train the next generation of committed, curious and highly capable physicians; and deliver world-class compassionate healthcare. As a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and a Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredited medical school, Stony Brook is one of the foremost institutes of higher medical education in the country. Each year the School trains nearly 500 medical students and more than 600 medical residents and fellows. Faculty research includes National Institutes of Health-sponsored programs in neurological diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disorders, biomedical imaging, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases, and many other topics. Physicians on the School of Medicine faculty deliver world-class medical care through more than 31,000 inpatient, 108,000 emergency room, and 940,000 outpatient visits annually at Stony Brook University Hospital and affiliated clinical programs, making its clinical services one of the largest and highest quality medical schools on Long Island, New York. To learn more, visit www.medicine.stonybrookmedicine.edu.