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Positive impact of the pandemic: the effect of post–COVID-19 virtual visit implementation on departmental efficiency and patient satisfaction in a quaternary care center

Zach Pennington, Giorgos D. Michalopoulos, Aaron J. Biedermann, Jeffrey R. Ziegler, Sherri L. Durst, Robert J. Spinner, Fredric B. Meyer, David J. Daniels, and Mohamad Bydon


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly changed clinical practice across US healthcare. Increased adoption of telemedicine has emerged as an alternative to in-person contact for patient-physician interactions. The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of telemedicine on workflow and care delivery from January 2019 to December 2021 in a neurosurgical department at a quaternary care center.


Prospectively captured data on clinic appointment utilization, duration, and outcomes were queried. Visits were divided into in-person visits and telemedicine appointments, categorized as follow-up visits of previously surgically treated patients, internal consultations, new patient visits, and early postoperative returns after surgery. Appointment volume was compared pre- and postpandemic using March 2020 as the pandemic onset. Clinical efficiency was measured by time to appointment, rate of on-time appointments, proportion of appointments resulting in surgical intervention (surgical yield), and patient-reported satisfaction, the latter measured as the proportion of patients indicating “high likelihood to recommend practice.”


A total of 54,562 visits occurred, most commonly for follow-up for previously operated patients (51.8%), internal new patient referrals (24.5%), and external new patient referrals (19.8%). Total visit volume was stable pre- to postpandemic (1521.3 vs 1512, p = 0.917). However, in-person visits significantly decreased (1517/month vs 1220/month, p < 0.001), with a nadir in April 2020, while telemedicine appointment utilization increased significantly (0.3% vs 19.1% of all visits). Telemedicine utilization remained stable throughout the 1st calendar year following the pandemic. Telemedicine appointments were associated with shorter time to appointment than in-person visits both before and after the pandemic onset (0–5 days from appointment request: 60% vs 33% vs 29.8%, p < 0.001). Patients had on-time appointments in 87% of telemedicine encounters. Notably, telemedicine appointments resulted in surgery in 31.8% of internal consultations or new patient visits, a significantly lower rate than that for in-person visits (51.8%). After the widespread integration of telemedicine, patient satisfaction for all visits was higher than before the pandemic onset (85.9% vs 88.5%, p = 0.027).


Telemedicine use significantly increased following the pandemic onset, compensating for observed decreases in face-to-face visits. Utilization rates have remained stable, suggesting effective integration, and delays between referrals and appointments were lower than for in-person visits. Importantly, telemedicine integration was not associated with a decrease in overall patient satisfaction, although telemedicine appointments had a lower surgical yield. These data suggest that telemedicine smoothened the impact of the pandemic on clinical workflow and helped to maintain continuity and quality of outpatient care.

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Building and implementing an institutional registry for a data-driven national neurosurgical practice: experience from a multisite medical center

Mohamad Bydon, Anshit Goyal, Aaron Biedermann, Allie J. Canoy Illies, Travis Paul, Abdul Karim Ghaith, Bernard Bendok, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Robert J. Spinner, and Fredric B. Meyer

In an era when healthcare “value” remains a much-emphasized concept, measuring and reporting the quality of neurosurgical care and costs remains a challenge for large multisite health systems. Ensuring cohesion in outcomes across multiple sites is important to the development of a holistic competitive marketing strategy that seeks to promote “brand” performance characterized by a superior quality of patient care. This requires mechanisms for data collection and development of a single uniform outcomes measurement system site wide. Operationalizing a true multidisciplinary effort in this space requires intersection of a vast array of information technology and administrative resources along with the neurosurgeons who provide subject-matter expertise relevant to patient care. To measure neurosurgical quality and safety as well as improve payor contract negotiations, a practice analytics dashboard was created to allow summary visualization of operational indicators such as case volumes, quality outcomes, and relative value units and financial indicators such as total hospital costs and charges in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the “value” of surgical care. The current version of the dashboard summarizes these metrics by site, surgeon, and procedure for nearly 30,000 neurosurgical procedures that have been logged into the Mayo Clinic Enterprise Neurosurgery Registry since transition to the Epic electronic health record (EHR) system. In this article, the authors sought to review their experience in launching this EHR-linked data-driven neurosurgical practice initiative across a large, national multisite academic medical center.