Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Surgeons

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A Thematic Analysis of Surgical Weight Loss (SWL) Patient Experience with Telehealth During Covid-19
Anusha Jayaram1, Dmitry Nepomnayshy, MD2, David Brams, MD2,Sara Tortorici, MS, ACNP-BC, CBN2
1Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; 2Department of Surgery, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Burlington, MA

We aimed to better understand surgical weight loss (SWL) patients’ experience with a telehealth program instituted following Covid-19 at a Massachusetts tertiary care hospital with an MBSAQIP accredited Comprehensive Center for SWL care.

All pre- and post-operative SWL patients who attended telehealth appointments from August 26 to February 15 were invited to participate in a de-identified survey through Zappix two days following their telehealth appointments. The survey included free text questions on patients’ likes and dislikes about telehealth, which were inductively coded to create a framework for a thematic analysis.

193 surveys were returned (13.4% of telehealth appointments). Respondents were an average age of 48.49 ±11.69, 85.49% women, and 26.94% post-op. 61.67% were video appointments via Epic Vidyo (35.19%), Google Meet (17.42%), or FaceTime (9.06%). 38.33% occurred by phone. The most common theme for patients liking telehealth was convenience (54.07%) related to travel, work scheduling, and remaining at home. Less frequent themes were high quality appointments (47.31%), ease of logistics (9.35%), and decreased Covid-19 exposure (7.32%). Three major themes emerged for patients disliking telehealth, including low appointment quality (47.31%) for not being seen in person, getting vitals, or being weighed; difficulty using and connecting to the software (34.41%); and unprepared appointment logistics (18.28%).

Our results demonstrate that telehealth is perceived as convenient and safe for SWL patients navigating work and travel, if high quality telehealth software is integrated in an operationally efficient manner.

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