Background: The costs of attending in-person general infectious diseases clinics and preferences for visit type (telemedicine vs in-person) are not well known. We aimed to measure the time-related, monetary, social, and societal costs associated with travel to an in-person clinic visit and to assess patients' preferences, questions, and concerns regarding telemedicine. Methods: Patients (≥18 years, living ≥25 miles from clinic at time of clinic visit) were recruited for this survey study from the general infectious diseases (ID) clinic at Washington University from June 2019 to February 2020. We calculated time and money potentially saved by telemedicine, as well as carbon dioxide emissions, with the assistance of Google Maps (low/high estimates). We also determined patient preferences regarding telemedicine for ID care. Results: Seventy-five patients completed the study. The round-Trip mean travel distance was 227.2±142.6 miles, mean travel time was 3.6±2.0 hours to 4.5±2.3 hours (low and high estimates from Google Maps), travel costs were $131.34±$82.27, and mean carbon dioxide emissions were 91.79±57.60 kg. Fifty-eight patients (77.3%) said they would be willing to have a telemedicine visit in the future, and 30 (40.5%) said they would rather have had their visit the day the survey was completed as a telemedicine visit. Conclusions: Telemedicine has the potential to significantly reduce patient costs, both monetary and time-related, and offers substantial environmental benefits, while being an acceptable method of care delivery to most patients at a general ID clinic.
- infectious diseases consultation
- social capital expenditure
- telemedicine cost
- telemedicine environmental impact