SLR - April 2021 - Bradley Jimerson

Day-of-Surgery Video Call and Phone Calls Increase Patient Satisfaction and Outpatient Surgery Experience

Reference: Kingery MT, Hoberman A, Baron SL, Gonzalez-Lomas G, Jazrawi LM, Alaia MJ, Strauss EJ. Day-of-Surgery Video Calls and Phone Calls Increase Patient Satisfaction with Outpatient Surgery Experience: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Postoperative Communication Modalities. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2021 Feb 3;103(3):243-250. 

Level of Evidence: Level I

Reviewed By: Bradley Jimerson, DPM
Residency Program: Christus St. Patrick Hospital – Lake Charles, LA 

Podiatric Relevance: Patient satisfaction has become increasingly more important as a clinical metric affecting incentives and reimbursement. Surveys such as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers, along with many others, have been implemented to incorporate patient satisfaction into physician incentives. As a podiatric physician it is important to understand what contributes to patient satisfaction both in a clinical and surgical setting. The use of electronic communication tools has emerged in recent years and became more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research that helps identify effective ways to utilize these tools to improve patient satisfaction can be very useful. This study evaluated the effect of same-day surgical follow-up phone calls and video calls on patient reported satisfaction during the postoperative follow-up period. 

Methods: This was a randomized controlled trial conducted over six months involving 251 patients undergoing outpatient orthopaedic surgery. Three surgeons were randomized into three communication modalities for one month. The three modalities included no patient contact, a phone call, or video call postoperively on the day of surgery. At the end of each month, the three surgeons were again randomized into one of the three categories until they each had completed two months of each postoperative communication type. Patients then completed two questionnaires at their one week postoperative follow up visit. The first questionnaire, and the primary outcome measure of this study, was the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Surgical Care survey (S-CAHPS). Patients also completed a second 9-question survey that was created specifically for this study to evaluate patient satisfaction. 

Results: The S-CAHPS top-box response rate was statistically greater between the video call (0.86 ± 0.14, p < 0.001) and phone call group (0.84 ± 0.17, p < 0.001) compared to the no-contact group (0.68 ± 0.26). There was no statistically significant difference between the video call and phone call patients. Phone calls had a 16.1 percent increase in top-box response compared to the no-contact group. Video calls had a 17.8 percentincrease in top-box responses compared to the no contact group. When simply asked to rate overall satisfaction, the video call group had statistically greater top-box responses compared to the phone call group and the no-contact group. Finally, more individuals in the video call group (95.8 percent) reported they would recommend their surgeon to a family or friend compared to the phone call (84.6 percent) and no-contact (64.3 percent) groups. 

Conclusions: The authors concluded that postoperative follow-up with patients on the day of surgery showed significantly better patient satisfaction than did no-contact and resulted in more “top-box” responses on the S-CAHPS survey. Patient satisfaction is increasingly becoming a contributing factor in physician reimbursement. In addition, as higher insurance premiums force patients to be more selective about their healthcare providers, understanding what leads to higher patient satisfaction will be important for all physicians to understand. As podiatric surgeons, reaching out to our patients on the day of surgery to address questions or concerns is a small task that can lead to higher patient satisfaction. 

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