Health Economic Analysis of Postoperative Video Telemedicine Visits to Patients' Homes

Bart M. Demaerschalk, Stephen D. Cassivi, Rebecca N. Blegen, Bijan Borah, James Moriarty, Rachel Gullerud, Sarvam P. Terkonda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: A postoperative video telemedicine follow-up program was introduced by the Mayo Clinic. An attempt was made to understand the potential cost savings to patients before contemplating full-scale expansion across all potentially eligible surgical patients and practices. Objective: The primary purpose was to estimate potential cost savings to patients with video telemedicine follow-up to home compared with face-to-face follow-up in a standard clinic setting. Design: The research was designed collaboratively by the Center for Connected Care and the surgical practice to address the question of estimated cost savings of postoperative video telemedicine visits. The intervention arm is the postoperative video telemedicine follow-up visit to home setting and the comparator is the face-to-face visit at Mayo Clinic. Setting: Large, integrated, academic multispecialty practice supporting patient care delivery, research, and education. Participants: The population under study comprised routine uncomplicated postoperative patients who underwent video telemedicine or face-to-face follow-up visits that fell within the 90-day global period across multiple (general, neurosurgery, plastic, thoracic, transplant, and urology) surgical specialties. Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s): Economic outcomes were cost of travel, accommodations, meals, and missed work. Additional outcomes included time expenditure and patient satisfaction. Cost/benefit analysis unit was US dollars (USD). All costs were inflated to 2018 USD, using the Gross Domestic Product Implicit price deflator. Results: Patients who utilized video telemedicine rather than face-to-face clinic visit for postoperative follow-up were estimated to save $888 per visit on average. More specifically, patients residing more than 1,635 miles round trip from clinic saved an estimated $1,501 per visit and patients not needing accommodation still saved an estimated $256 per visit. Patient satisfaction over video telemedicine postoperative follow-up visits remained high over the 6-year period of study. Conclusions and Relevance: The use of video telemedicine for routine uncomplicated postoperative follow-up visits to replace face-to-face follow-up visits has the potential to be financially advantageous for patients. Question: For postoperative patients, what are the health economic outcomes associated with video telemedicine follow-up to home compared with face-to-face follow-up in a standard clinic setting? Findings: Video telemedicine offers a cost benefit for patients through avoidance of travel costs and missed work. Meaning: For uncomplicated routine postoperative follow-up visits, video telemedicine is a less costly alternative for most patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-640
Number of pages6
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • cost savings
  • economics
  • general surgery
  • health care costs
  • postoperative complications
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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