How Are Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Physicians Triaging Cases and Using Telehealth in Response to COVID-19? A Survey of AOSSM Membership
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the practice of orthopaedic sports medicine. The threat of COVID-19 persists, and future restrictions to elective procedures are possible. It is important to understand how sports surgeons are prioritizing surgical cases during elective case restrictions and how telehealth is being incorporated into practice. Purpose: To understand how orthopaedic sports surgeons have triaged surgical sports cases and how telehealth is being utilized in response to COVID-19. Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: A survey was presented to participants of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) webinar “Handling Sports and COVID-19” and distributed through email to all members of the AOSSM. The survey consisted of 25 questions with 3 sections: demographics, clinical practice, and telehealth. Descriptive statistics were performed. Results: Overall, 104 respondents participated. Respondents varied with respect to their location, type of clinical practice, and years in practice. The cases with the highest priority during triage included infections, fractures, and traumatic tendon ruptures (eg, quadriceps tendon). Before COVID-19, <14.0% of surgeons used telehealth, and 76.7% had never used telehealth. Now, however, 81.4% of respondents plan to use telehealth at least once a week in their practice. Respondents indicated postoperative visits and return patients as the most appropriate for telehealth. The majority felt that telehealth was not appropriate for new shoulder (65.9%) or knee (55.6%) evaluation. The leading barriers to telehealth use that were identified included, in decreasing order, concerns about clinical appropriateness, accuracy of physical examination, billing/reimbursement, and medicolegal concerns. Conclusion: Telehealth has seen rapid adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the majority of respondents plan to continue using it. It is being used more for established patients rather than new patient visits. For surgical cases, there was a clear triage priority of sports medicine cases, including infections, fractures, and traumatic tendon ruptures. Lower extremity cases had higher priority than upper extremity.
Lau, BC; Wittstein, JR; Anakwenze, OA
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