The efficacy of remote virtual care in comparison to traditional clinical visits for elective orthopaedic patients: A meta-analysis of prospective randomised controlled trials.

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The Orthopaedic Trauma Association has recommended limitation of in-person encounters to absolute necessity. One method of ensuring standard patient care within these guidelines is through the implementation of telemedicine.To evaluate the efficacy of telemedicine for elective orthopaedic patients in the recovery and/or rehabilitation period.A systematic review and meta-analysis of articles in Medline/PubMed and The Cochrane Library databases was performed according to the PRISMA guidelines for prospective randomised controlled trials to compare clinical and symptomatic measures for elective patients managed routinely with remote care compared to those managed with standard in-clinic management. To be included for meta-analysis, parameters must be evaluated in ≥3 studies.Eleven studies were included in the meta-analyses. Both telemedicine and control cohorts were comparable for patient satisfaction (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.90-1.07; I2 = 0%; p = 0.52) and patient retention analysis (RR, 1.25; 95% CI, 0.51-3.06; p = 0.54; I2 = 0%). Similarly, there was no statistical difference appreciated between cohorts for overall Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score (p = 0.30), Timed Up and Go Test (p = 0.40), and Stair Test (p = 0.18). Significant difference did exist for visual analogue scale (VAS) scores (p = 0.02) in favour of in-clinic management.Telemedicine will serve an integral aspect of healthcare delivery throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in an effort to deliver safe, efficient and time-sensitive care to the orthopaedic patient population. The results of our meta-analyses indicate that virtual consultations are as effective as traditional in-person consultations for the care of elective orthopaedic patients in the recovery and rehabilitation period. However, further studies are needed to evaluate for initial consultations and certain sub-specialties of orthopaedics.

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Authors: J M McDonnell, D P Ahern, T D Ross, D Gibbons, K A Synnott, J S Butler