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Rural patients’ experiences with anesthesia and surgical consultations in British Columbia

Digital Health


Authors: Jude Kornelsen, Matilda Taylor, Sean Ebert, Tom Skinner, and Kathrin Stoll

Publication Date: March 2024

Rural patients face barriers to accessing surgical care and often need to travel long distance for pre- or post-surgical consultations. This studies aims to evaluate patient satisfaction with virtual care and consequent health service utilization if virtual services are not available. This study is part of a larger evaluation of RSON outcomes, specifically considering patient satisfaction with the mode of pre- and post-surgical consultations in order to make inferences about health service planning.


Findings from a province-wide survey revealed no significant differences in average satisfaction ratings between people with in-person and virtual surgical consultations. However, most participants indicated that virtual appointments saved them time traveling, energy, and money and made them less dependent on others, accruing significant social benefit. In the community-focused sample, 38% said they would not have had the procedure without a virtual visit option and 21% said that they would have delayed the procedure. Virtual consultations saved patients an average of 9 h. Participants travelled an average of 427 kilometres round trip to have the procedures. This study reveals costs and time saved in accessing care due to the introduction of pre- and post-operative virtual care visits, and further investments in virtual care are warranted. This will contribute to promoting equitable access to healthcare for rural residents.

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