Short Title:Journal of Burn Care And Research (formerly Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation)
Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):17, 38, , e235-e239
Study evaluated the utility of telemedicine during the rehabilitative phase of burn care. Telemedicine is defined as the use of information technology to deliver health care at a distance. A retrospective review was performed on patients enrolled in a program that utilized telemedicine between a burn center and rehabilitation hospital in an urban setting. Data collected included total number of encounters, visits, type of visit, physician time, and readmissions. Transportation costs were based on local ambulance rates between the two facilities. The impact of telemedicine was evaluated with respect to the time saved for the physician, burn center, and burn clinic, as well as rehabilitative days saved. A patient satisfaction survey was also administered. A total of 29 patients participated in 73 virtual visits through the telemedicine project. Virtual visits included new consults, preoperative evaluations, and postoperative follow-ups. A total of 146 ambulance transports were averted during the study period, totaling $101,110. Virtual visits saved 6.8 outpatient burn clinic days, or 73 clinic appointments of 30-minutes duration. The ability to perform more outpatient surgery resulted in 80 inpatient bed days saved at the burn hospital. The rehabilitation hospital saved an average of 2 to 3 patient days secondary to unnecessary travel. Satisfaction surveys demonstrated patient satisfaction with the encounters, primarily related to time saved. The decrease in travel time for the patient from the rehabilitation hospital to outpatient burn clinic improved adherence to the rehabilitation care plan and resulted in increased throughput at the rehabilitation facility. This study showed how videoconferencing between a burn center and rehabilitation hospital streamlined patient care and reduced healthcare costs, while maintaining quality of care and patient satisfaction.