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I am sure that most, if not all, readers of Urology News will have utilised some form of telemedicine over the last few months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This timely publication from Boston Children’s Hospital precedes the COVID-19 era (July to November 2018) and studied whether virtual visits were as effective as conventional outpatient visits following surgery in terms of clinical outcomes, family experience and costs in a selected paediatric urological population. Overall, 107 virtual and 100 in-person postoperative visits were undertaken. Attendance compliance was similar (approximately 90%) – some people still forget to ‘attend’! Virtual visits took around 15 minutes compared to 250 minutes for an in-person visit. Unsurprisingly, 98.4% of the total time spent for an in-person visit was accounted for by travel and waiting for care. Significantly less work and school were missed by parents and children respectively with virtual visits. The majority (96-98%) found the virtual visit to be more convenient and would be happy to meet their care provider again in this manner. The authors also calculated an opportunity cost (based on an average national salary of $22.81 per hour) through foregone activities; in face to face visits this came to a total of $95 per visit compared to only $5.70 for virtual visits. Telemedicine has the ability to be safe, effective, patient-centred, timely, efficient and equitable. The authors concluded that patients undergoing minor and minimally invasive surgery were well-served with its utilisation. Virtual visits may now become routine practice for us all and we may discover further unexpected benefits with time. 

Telemedicine for pediatric urological postoperative care is safe, convenient and economical.
Finkelstein JB, Cahill D, Young K, et al.
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Neil Featherstone

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Addenbrookes Hospital).

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