This past week our practices made adjustments to our post-operative visit protocols. Our standard process pre-COVID-19 is seeing patients in the clinic within two weeks following low-risk, uncomplicated cholecystectomies, appendectomies, hernia repairs, and the like. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak, we felt standardizing follow-up visits via telehealth with visits by telephone versus in-person clinic visits, would be the right thing to do for several reasons:
First, the telephonic follow-up visit reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at a time when the patient’s immune system is working hard to heal from surgery.
Second, for some patients, the drive to the clinic can mean an extended period in the car which may be inconvenient and uncomfortable.
Third, managing follow-up visits with patients by telephone also reduces risk of exposure for our surgeons, advanced practice providers, and office staff, who must remain in good health to be of service to others in each community we serve.
Now, when our office administrators call our patients to schedule a post-op follow-up visit with the surgeon or advanced practice provider, they first screen to ensure the patient is a candidate for a telehealth visit versus an in-person clinic appointment. According to Rae Samhoury, our Director of Practice Operations, this new follow-up option has been positive, “The telephonic appointments are going well. We’ve received great responses from both the providers and the clinical staff from offering this type of follow-up option.”
“As we continue to innovate as an organization, perhaps telehealth will become part of how we routinely conduct follow-up visits for low-risk patients,” says Dr. Mit Desai, Founder and CEO of The Surgicalist Group. “We continue monitoring the process, making adjustments when necessary to best serve our communities.”