• Telemedicine Improves Access to Care for Spine Patients With Low Socioeconomic Status

      Ye, Ivan B.; Thomson, Alexandra E.; Chowdhury, Navid; Oster, Brittany; Miseo, Vincent S.; Jauregui, Julio J.; Cavanaugh, Daniel; Koh, Eugene; Gelb, Daniel; Ludwig, Steven (SAGE Publications Inc., 2022-01-01)
      Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Objectives: The objective of this study is to compare the likelihood of missing a scheduled telemedicine and in-person appointments for spine patients. The secondary objective is to assess the impact of socioeconomic status on missed telemedicine and in-person appointments. Methods: Patients with scheduled outpatient appointments with orthopedic spine faculty between 2019 and 2021 were divided by appointment type: telemedicine (N = 4,387) and in-person (N = 3810). Socioeconomic status was assessed using Area Deprivation Index (ADI) stratified based on percentile: low (<25), medium (25–75), and high (>75) levels of socioeconomic disadvantage. The primary outcome measure was missed clinic appointments, which was defined as having at least one appointment that was cancelled or labeled “no show.” Results: Patients with in-person appointments missed appointments more often than patients with telemedicine visits (51.3% vs 24.7%, P <.001). Patients with high ADI missed their in-person appointments more often than patients with medium and low ADI (59.5% vs 52.2% and 47.5%, P <.001). There was no difference in missed telemedicine visits between patients with high, medium, and low ADI (27.6% vs 24.8% vs 23.8%, P =.294). Patients that missed an appointment were 41.9% more likely to be high ADI (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.20–1.68, P <.001) and 13.4% more likely to be medium ADI (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.03–1.26, P =.015) compared with low ADI patients. Conclusions: Telemedicine may serve a role in reducing disparity in appointment attendance. While further studies are needed to validate these findings, spine surgeons should consider offering telemedicine as an option to patients. © The Author(s) 2022.