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Barriers to Implementation of Telehealth Pre-anesthesia Evaluation Visits in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Barbeito A, Raghunathan K, Connolly S, Mariano ER, Blitz J, Stafford RS, Mudumbai S. Barriers to Implementation of Telehealth Pre-anesthesia Evaluation Visits in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Federal practitioner : for the health care professionals of the VA, DoD, and PHS. 2023 Jul 1; 40(7):210-217a.

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BACKGROUND: Evaluations are conducted days or weeks before a scheduled surgical or invasive procedure involving anesthesia to assess patients'' preprocedure condition and risk, optimize status, and prepare them for their procedure. The traditional pre-anesthesia evaluation is conducted in person, although telehealth modalities have been used for several years and have accelerated since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We surveyed 109 anesthesiology services to understand the barriers and facilitators to the adoption of telephone- and video-based pre-anesthesia evaluation visits within the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). RESULTS: The analysis included 55 responses from 50 facilities. Twenty-two facilities reported using both telephone and video, 11 telephone only, 5 video only, and 12 none of these modalities. For telehealth users, the ability to obtain a history of present illness, the ability to assess for comorbidities, and assess for health habits were rated highest while assessing nutritional status was lowest. Among nonusers of telehealth modalities, barriers to adoption included the inability to perform a physical examination and the inability to obtain vital signs. Respondents not using telephone cited concerns about safety, while respondents not using video also cited lack of information technology and staff support and patient-level barriers. CONCLUSIONS: We found no significant perceived advantages of video over telephone in the ability to conduct routine pre-anesthesia evaluations except for the perceived ability to assess nutritional status. Clinicians with no telehealth experience cited the inability to perform a physical examination and obtain vital signs as the most significant barriers to implementation. Future work should focus on delineating the most appropriate and valuable uses of telehealth for pre-anesthesia evaluation and/or optimization.

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