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Background: The traditional model of care of the Orthopaedic Fracture Clinic (OFC) is labour intensive, expensive, has poor satisfaction rates, and often has minimal impact on management and outcomes of patients with minor injuries. Our aim was to implement a Virtual Fracture Clinic (VFC) for the management of minor injuries that is safe, reduces OFC clinic workload and reduces the OFC failure to attend (FTA) rate.
Methods: This study was a retrospective longitudinal audit of OFC workload before (January 2012 -February 2017) and after (March 2017 – December 2019) implementation of the VFC. It was performed in an urban district general hospital in South East Queensland, Australia. The primary outcome measures included attendances per timepoint (month).
Results: Overall, we observed a significant reduction in total number of patients from 1,055 (IQR 104.5) to 831 (IQR: 103) per month) coming through the OFC following the introduction of the VFC (F = 21.9; df=1; p <0.0001). The failure to attend rate was reduced by 44% from 271 (IQR: 127.3) to 151 (IQR: 72.8) (F=4.0; df=1; p = 0.047).
Conclusion: The VFC implementation was successful in improving efficiency and reducing the current OFC workload, as well as reducing FTA rate. Reduction in clinic workload allows more time to be spent with complex patients, prevents clinic backlogs and overbooking, and crowding of waiting rooms. In the midst of a global pandemic that is spread by close contact, virtual clinics seem the way of the future to treat patients whilst minimising risk of COVID-19 spread.
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