Remote orthopedic care: Can it be quality & cost effective? 5 things to know

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |

A study presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting found remote care could save time and prove cost-effective for rural populations.

A team of orthopedic surgeons at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal collected data on commercial, encrypted email and phone calls in communication with primary care physicians in six northern Quebec towns. The patients primarily suffered bone fractures that typically require traveling to a large hospital for care.


The study examined interactions from January 2008 to June 2013 with 921 email consults. The researchers found:


1. There were 731 patients who received treatment from their local physician with guidance from a McGill orthopedic surgeon.


2. The email system between the physicians was simple with no start-up costs or dedicated personnel; sophisticated telehealth communication systems have higher operating costs.


3. The study estimated the system saved nearly $3.7 million — $5.5 million in Canadian dollars — over the study period in medical transportation. In Canada, the transportation is provided free-of-charge from rural areas.


4. Traveling for orthopedic treatment and care requires patients to take time off from work, pay for child care and related expenses; the remote treatment creates savings there.


5. The study authors concluded providers don't need the expensive, elaborate system to clinically manage patients with orthopedic conditions.


More articles on orthopedic surgery:
AAOS elects Dr. Brian Galinat to the board: 5 takeaways
Dr. Andrew Hall joins Englewood Orthopedics: 4 points
Dr. Nakul Karkare praises robotic surgery for hip replacements

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