Head Neck 2016 06 21;38(6):925-9. Epub 2016 Feb 21.
Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Palo Alto, California.
Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate a telemedicine model that utilizes an audiovisual teleconference as a preoperative visit.
Methods: Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients with head and neck cancer at 2 remote locations were provided access to the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs (PAVA) Health Care System otolaryngology department via the telemedicine protocol: tissue diagnosis and imaging at the patient site; data review at PAVA; and a preoperative teleconference connecting the patient to PAVA. Operative care occurred at PAVA. Follow-up care was provided remotely via teleconference.
Results: Fifteen patients were evaluated. Eleven underwent surgery, 4 with high-grade neoplasms (carcinoma). Average time from referral to operation was 28 days (range, 17-36 days) and 72 (range, 31-108 days), respectively, for high-grade and low-grade groups. The average patient was spared 28 hours traveling time and $900/patient was saved on travel-related costs.
Conclusion: A telemedicine model enables timely access to surgical care and permits considerable savings among select VHA patients with head and neck cancer. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 38: 925-929, 2016.