Henry reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
Despite vaccine availability and the reopening of clinical offices after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth remains a popular choice for orthopedic patients, according to published results.
Using the terms “orthopedic,” “surgeon,” “doctor,” “injury,” “pain” and “telehealth,” researchers from Rothman Orthopaedic Institute performed a Google Trends search to assess interest in orthopedic telehealth from May 2016 to May 2021. According to the study, results were formulated into combined search interest values (CSIVs), with a maximum score of 400 indicating the highest level of search interest. CSIVs were compared for the pre-pandemic period (May 2016 to March 2020), pre-vaccine period (March 2020 to January 2021) and post-vaccine period (January 2021 to May 2021).
Mean CSIV during the pre-pandemic period was 40.3 compared with a mean CSIV of 134.7 during the pre-vaccine period and a mean CSIV of 96.3 during the post-vaccine period. Researchers found a positive correlation between mean CSIV and time during the pre-pandemic period, while no significant correlation was found between mean CSIV and time during the post-vaccine period. Additionally, researchers determined it would take an additional 13.3 years beyond the study period to reach the mean pre-pandemic CSIV level of 40.3.
“In conclusion, interest in orthopedic telehealth was steadily growing prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and remains significantly elevated beyond pre-pandemic levels despite the reopening of clinical offices and the introduction of vaccine availability across the country,” the researchers wrote in the study. “It appears that a subset of patients will continue to seek telehealth services beyond the pandemic. Therefore, it will likely benefit orthopedic providers to continue offering virtual visits when clinically appropriate and preferred by patients.”