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J Telemed Telecare. 2000;6(4):237-41.

User satisfaction with teleconsultations for surgery.

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Department of Surgery, Satakunta Central Hospital, Pori, Finland.


We carried out a prospective study of realtime videoconferencing in surgical consultations. Videoconferencing equipment at the Satakunta Central Hospital, Pori, was connected by ISDN at 384 kbit/s to two health centres in the cities of Kankaanpää and Huittinen (55 and 60 km from Pori, respectively). A document camera was used to transmit images of radiographs and paper documents. Fifty patients who needed a surgical consultation were examined by a doctor in the health centres, and the surgeon interviewed and observed the physical examination by videoconference. The consultation time ranged from 12 to 23 min (mean 15 min). Technically the equipment functioned reliably and the quality of the video-picture was good. According to the consulting surgeon, the decision made in the videoconference was reliable in 48 cases (96%). According to the doctors in the health centres, the consultation was useful in 49 cases (98%) and was considered satisfactory in one. The doctors thought that the teleconsultation was as reliable as an outpatient appointment in 49 cases (98%). The educational benefit of the consultation was excellent or good in 38 cases (76%). The overall satisfaction of patients was very good or good in 45 cases (96%). All patients, except one, avoided travelling to a face-to-face appointment because they received a definite treatment decision during the teleconsultation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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