Measuring Telehealth Visit Length and Schedule Adherence Using Videoconferencing Data

Telemed J E Health. 2021 Nov 8. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2021.0382. Online ahead of print.


Background: The ability to measure clinical visit length is critical for operational efficiency, patient experience, and accurate billing. Despite the unprecedented surge in telehealth use in 2020, studies on visit length and schedule adherence in the telehealth setting are nonexistent in the literature. This article aims to demonstrate the use of videoconferencing data to measure telehealth visit length and schedule adherence. Materials and Methods: We used data from telehealth video visits at four clinical specialties at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, including behavioral health (BH), speech pathology (SP), physical therapy/occupational therapy (PT/OT), and primary care (PC). We combined videoconferencing timestamp data with visit scheduling data to calculate the total visit length, examination length, and patient wait times. We also assessed schedule adherence, including patient on-time performance, examination on-time performance, provider schedule deviations, and schedule length deviations. Results: The analyses included a total of 175,876 telehealth video visits. On average, children with BH appointments spent a total of 57.2 min for each visit, followed by PT/OT (50.8 min), SP (42.1 min), and PC (25.0 min). The average patient wait times were 4.1 min (BH), 2.7 min (PT/OT), 2.8 min (SP), and 3.1 min (PC). The average examination lengths were 48.8 min (BH), 44.5 min (PT/OT), 34.9 min (SP), and 16.6 min (PC). Regardless of clinical specialty, actual examination lengths of most visits were shorter than the scheduled lengths, except that appointments scheduled for 15 min tended to run overtime. Conclusions: Videoconferencing data provide a low-cost, accurate, and readily available resource for measuring telehealth visit length and schedule adherence.

PMID:34748431 | DOI:10.1089/tmj.2021.0382

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