During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth modalities have come to prominence as a strategy for providing patient care when in-person care provision opportunities are limited. The degree of adoption by neuro-ophthalmologists has not been quantified.
Telehealth utilization pre–COVID-19 and peri–COVID-19 was surveyed among practicing neuro-ophthalmologists in and outside the United States using an online platform. Demographics, perceived benefits, barriers, and utility for different neuro-ophthalmic conditions were collected. Data collection occurred over a 2-week period in May 2020.
Two hundred eight practicing neuro-ophthalmologists (81.3% United States, 50.2% females, age range <35 to >65, mode 35–44 years) participated in the survey. Utilization of all telehealth modalities increased from pre-COVID to peri-COVID (video visit 3.9%–68.3%, P < 0.0005, remote interpretation of testing 26.7%–32.2%, P = 0.09, online second opinion 7.9%–15.3%, P = 0.001, and interprofessional e-consult 4.4%–18.7%, P < 0.0005, McNemar). The majority selected access, continuity, and patient efficiency of care as benefits and data quality as a barrier. Telehealth was felt to be most helpful for conditions relying on history, external examination, and previously collected ancillary testing and not helpful for conditions requiring funduscopic examination.
Telehealth modality usage by neuro-ophthalmologists increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Identified benefits have relevance both during and beyond COVID-19. Further work is needed to address barriers in their current and future states to maintain these modalities as viable care delivery options.