Cost analysis of face-to-face visits, virtual visits, and a digital care pathway in the treatment of tonsillitis patients

Oskari Hakanen, Morag Tolvi, Paulus Torkki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose The aim of this study was to compare the costs of two different telemedicine-assisted tonsillitis care pathways with traditional face-to-face visits at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (ORL-HNS) at Helsinki University Hospital. Methods We characterized and analyzed the patient flows and their individual episodes of all tonsillitis patients at the Department of ORL-HNS between September 2020 and August 2022. Records were collected by doctors at the clinic. We investigated costs and allocated resources in four categories: invoice from the Department of ORL-HNS to the public payer, expenses to the Department, patient fees, and doctor's resource. Results At least a third of the tonsillitis patients were eligible for telemedicine. The digital care pathway was 12.6 % less expensive for the public payer compared to the previous virtual visit model. For the Department, the expense of the digital care pathway was 58.8 % less per patient than the virtual visit model. Patient fees decreased 79.5 %. The digital care pathway reduced the doctor's resource from 30.28 min to 19.78 min, which accounts for a 34.7 % reduction. Patients finished the digital care pathway in a median of 62 min (SD = 60) compared to the 2–4 h which they would spend on an outpatient clinic visit. Conclusion Our study demonstrates that tonsillitis patients are eligible for preoperative telemedicine. With at least a third of the tonsillitis patients being eligible for telemedicine, major cost savings can be achieved with efficient e-health-assisted solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103868
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology
Issue number4
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Virtual visits
  • Telemedicine
  • Tonsillectomy
  • Tonsillitis
  • Digital care pathway
  • 3125 Otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology

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