Surgical Patient Experience with a Novel Telemedicine Program in the COVID-19 Era


  • Rachel M. Segal, BS UC San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Jared Matson, MD Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Omid Moshtaghi, MD Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Elina Vaidya Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Elina Kari, MD Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Rick Friedman, MD Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Jeffrey P. Harris, MD, PhD Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, UC San Diego Department of Surgery, San Diego, CA, USA



telemedicine, telehealth, COVID, surgery, colorectal, otolaryngology


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, measures were taken to decrease viral spread by transitioning health care appointments to virtual mediums. This study evaluates the use of telemedicine within the Divisions of Colon and Rectal Surgery and Otolaryngology-Neurotology at a single academic institution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study Design: An online survey modeled after the TeleENT Satisfaction Questionnaire and the Medical Communication Competence Scale (MCCS) was administered to gauge patient’s experience with Electronic Medical Record-based telemedicine visits.

Results: Participants noticed several advantages of telemedicine visits over traditional in-office visits: shorter visits, saving money, and avoiding potential exposure during the pandemic. A total of 36% at least somewhat agreed that the quality of care was hindered by the lack of a physical examination;61.7% participants at least somewhat agreed that they prefer a face-to-face visit rather than telemedicine consultation. Most patients were satisfied with the care they received via telemedicine (Likert 6.19/7) and 95.8% would use telemedicine again. Participants self-reported an average saving of $108.70 when using telemedicine. When comparing the telemedicine cohort with the in-office control, the telemedicine patients noticed an improved ability to communicate with their physician in five out of eight domains of the MCCS.

Conclusion: Surgical preoperative consultation, postoperative follow-up, and routine visits were conducted via telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, representing a new direction for surgical appointments and consultations. This study shows that telehealth can provide satisfactory care and increases access to surgical care for patients when external factors prevent the traditional physician–patient interaction. With better-perceived communication via telemedicine appointments, patients may subjectively feel that they can express their symptoms and gather information from the doctor regarding their diagnosis more efficiently.


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How to Cite

Segal, R. M., Matson, J., Moshtaghi, O., Vaidya, E., Kari, E., Friedman, R., Ramamoorthy, S., & Harris, J. P. (2021). Surgical Patient Experience with a Novel Telemedicine Program in the COVID-19 Era. Telehealth and Medicine Today, 6(1).



Original Clinical Research