The use of telemedicine in the management of vascular surgical referrals.
Hands LJ., Jones RW., Clarke M., Mahaffey W., Bangs I.
We have performed a feasibility study of telemedicine as an alternative to conventional outpatient appointments for the making of diagnostic and management decisions for patients referred for vascular surgery. Twenty-two sequential patients referred by a single general practice to a vascular centre were offered a telemedicine clinic appointment as an alternative to a conventional hospital outpatient appointment. A referral pro forma and digital photograph (where appropriate) were transmitted in advance of the videoconference. The videoconference involved patient, practice nurse and vascular consultant. All patients opted for the teleconsultation. The majority had leg ulceration or leg pain. Six patients required only the initial teleconsultation and were managed thereafter in the community. Thirteen were referred to the vascular laboratory for investigation. Three proceeded to angioplasty and four to surgery. Two patients had a conventional outpatient appointment for follow-up but all others were followed up via telemedicine. Overall 27 conventional outpatient appointments were replaced by a teleconsultation.