A virtual outpatient department provides a satisfactory patient experience following endoscopy
The purpose of this study was to investigate telephone follow-up of post-endoscopy patients as an alternative to attendance at the outpatient department.
Access to outpatient appointments is often a target for improvement in healthcare systems. Increased outpatient clinic capacity is not feasible without investment and extra manpower in an already constrained service. Outpatient attendance was audited at a busy colorectal surgical service. A subset of patients appropriate for follow-up in a “virtual outpatient department” (VOPD) were identified. A pilot study was designed and involved telephone follow-up of low-risk endoscopic procedures. Patient satisfaction was assessed using the Medical Interview Satisfaction Scale (MISS), which is a standardised survey of patient satisfaction with healthcare experiences. This was conducted via anonymous questionnaire at the end of the study.
Of a total of 166 patients undergoing endoscopy in the time period, 79 were prospectively recruited to VOPD follow-up based on eligibility criteria. Overall, 67 (84.8 %) were successfully followed up by telephone consultation; nine patients (11.4 %) were contacted by mail. The remaining three patients (3.8 %) were brought back to the OPD. Patients recruited were more likely to be younger (55.82 ± 14.96 versus 60.78 ± 13.97 years, P = 0.029) and to have had normal examinations (49.4 versus 31.0 %, χ2 = 5.070, P = 0.025). Nearly three quarters of patients responded to the questionnaire. The mean scores for all four aspects of the MISS were satisfactory, and overall patients were satisfied with the VOPD experience.
VOPD is a target for improved healthcare provision, with improved efficiency and a high patient satisfaction rate.