Telehealth Sustainability in a Neurosurgery Department During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Monica J. Chau, Jorge E. Quintero, Ashley Guiliani, Tripp Hines, Christopher Samaan, Katie Seybold, Matthew Stowe, Dean Hanlon, Greg A. Gerhardth, Craig van Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the dynamics of health care and neurosurgical practice. Elective surgeries were suspended for 8 weeks in Kentucky. Our objective was to determine if telehealth (TH) visits could be sustained as an alternative to in-person visits. Methods: Deidentified data on TH usage, in-person clinic visits, and inpatient and neurosurgical case volumes from March 2, 2020 to June 26, 2020 were obtained for retrospective analysis. Results: TH use increased soon after the case suspension started and then decreased to little usage. The number of in-person visits were significantly lower during elective case suspension compared with when cases were resumed. Twenty-five percent of all visits during the suspension were conducted using TH. Thirty-nine percent of TH-visit patients were new patients, 11% were preoperative, 10% were postoperative, and 39% were other existing patients. Forty-eight percent of TH visits resulted in a later in-person clinic visit. After the suspension, in-person visits rebounded to 98% of the prepandemic numbers and TH visits were low. Conclusions: TH visits were challenging due to the need for in-person physical examinations in neurosurgery. TH temporarily accommodated patient needs during the pandemic but could not totally replace in-person visits and was not sustained after 3.5 months of use. Video TH visits worked well for nonurgent issues, such as minor visual examinations. Our findings could help guide the implementation of TH should similar circumstances arise again.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e617-e624
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Neurosurgery
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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