Development and Service Evaluation of an ad hoc Virtual Arthroplasty Clinic during COVID-19: Experiences from Irish National Orthopaedic Hospital
Introduction: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on healthcare. It has forced orthopaedic surgeons to limit face-to-face patient contact. This resulted in the ad hoc creation of a virtual arthroplasty clinic (VAC) in Irish National Orthopaedic Hospital. We aimed to assess this new VAC and ascertain its effectiveness as an alternative to physical appointments during and following the pandemic.
Materials and methods: Patients were followed-up in this VAC six weeks post-operatively. A service evaluation of this virtual arthroplasty clinic was carried out using a questionnaire created by the orthopaedic department.
Results: A total of 30 patients requiring 6-week follow-up after the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland were included. Average pre- and post-operative visual analogue scale score (VAS) was 8.1 and 2.3, respectively. Average pre- and post-operative Oxford hip and knee score was 19.1 and 39.2, respectively. Twenty-one patients (70%) were happy to have their six weeks post-operative e-outpatient consultation virtually. Twenty-six patients (86%) were happy with future virtual follow-up. Twenty-eight patients (93%) would be happy experiencing the whole process again. Eleven patients would be interested in having future joint replacement surgery, though ten of them (91%) stated COVID-19 would impact that decision.
Conclusion: Most patients were happy to have their six-week appointment and future appointments virtually. Functional outcome scores had improved and pain scores had reduced at six-week follow-up, supporting the idea that virtual clinics are not inferior to physical clinics. Patients expressed concern about having a further joint replacement in the context of COVID-19.
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