A recent study published in European Urology by the European Association of Urology looked at whether telemedicine was a suitable alternative for face-to-face appointments for urology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers discuss the appropriateness and willingness of patients to have telemedicine appointments during the pandemic.
A total of 339 patients were surveyed by telephone and asked “If your appointment was tomorrow during the COVID-19 pandemic, would you prefer in-house appointments or telemedicine contact?” The overwhelming majority, 85%, chose to have a telemedicine consultation rather than a face-to-face consultation. Interestingly, the main reason for refusal of telemedicine was mostly technical limitations, with only 2.5% of patients refusing because they preferred personal contact with their physician.
Younger patients and higher-risk patients tended to prefer a telemedicine appointment. There was no difference between urological patients with or without cancer. Overall, 54.1% of patients were both eligible and willing to be scheduled for telemedicine appointments.
Based on these data, urological patients are good candidates for telemedicine appointments, which offer a contact-free solution to patient care. However, patients expressed concern for delayed diagnosis of potentially life-altering conditions. The fear of COVID-19 has unfortunately restricted the number of patients attending hospital appointments, which may result in worsened patient outcomes. Telemedicine provides an opportunity for efficient and timely care, especially for those unwilling to venture into hospital or GP surgery.