During the COVID-19 pandemic tele-health 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- and peri-COVID-19 was surveyed among practicing neuro-ophthalmologists in and outside the US using an on-line 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.
208 practicing neuro-ophthalmologists (81.3% US, 50.2% female, 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% to 68.3%, p<0.0005, remote interpretation of testing 26.7% to 32.2%, p=0.09, on-line second opinion 7.9% to 15.3%, p=0.001, interprofessional e-consult 4.4% to 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 exam, and previously collected ancillary testing and not helpful for conditions requiring funduscopic exam.
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.