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Sourabh Arora, Khaliq Kurji, Irfan Kherani, Christopher J Rudnisky, Karim F Damji; Telemedicine versus in-person examination: High patient satisfaction with a teleglaucoma model for detection and management of glaucoma suspects in rural Alberta. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):6100.
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To assess patient satisfaction with a teleophthalmology model for glaucoma detection and management as compared to standard in-person examination amongst a sample population of glaucoma suspect patients in rural Alberta.
76 new glaucoma suspect patients from rural Alberta were selected if they had experienced both a teleglaucoma virtual exam (history, exam and diagnostic information uploaded from their local optometrist visit), as well as a traditional ophthalmologist-based in-person assessment over the past two years. A 5-point Likert scale structured patient questionnaire was carried out by an independent trained staff over the telephone. The questionnaire consisted of twelve questions, which compared patient experiences and preferences between their teleglaucoma and ophthalmologist-based consultations. University of Alberta REB approval was obtained.
Of the 76 patients that fit the selection criteria, 23 (30% response rate) were successfully contacted by telephone. Patients traveled less total distances for their teleglaucoma visit as compared to their ophthalmologist-based screening exam (69.25+/- 117 km vs. 226.84 +/-198 km). Patients also spent less time at the teleglaucoma visit (0.40 +/- 0.30 hours) as compared to the in-person ophthalmologist exam (1.51 +/- 0.97 hours). Analysis of the questionnaire (1-strongly disagree to 5-strongly agree), showed that patients were satisfied with their teleglaucoma examination (4.5+/-0.84). Furthermore, when asked about their choice of glaucoma screening in the future, patients preferred to use teleglaucoma (4.26+/-1.38). Patients cited time saving (91.3%), convenience (91.3%), and lower cost (60.9%) as the primary benefits of teleglaucoma.
This study demonstrates high patient satisfaction with a teleglaucoma exam when compared to in person ophthalmologist care in patients at risk for glaucoma in rural Alberta. Patients report that teleglaucoma reduces travel distance, time, and associated cost for those being screened as glaucoma suspects. Studies validating the model by comparing in-person to tele-examination are underway by our group.
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