HumanInsight Drivers of variation in telemedicine use during the COVID-19 pandemic: The experience of a large academic cardiovascular practice
J Telemed Telecare. 2022 Oct 9:1357633X221130288. doi: 10.1177/1357633X221130288. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: COVID-19 spurred rapid adoption and expansion of telemedicine. We investigated the factors driving visit modality (telemedicine vs. in-person) for outpatient visits at a large cardiovascular center.
METHODS: We used electronic health record data from March 2020 to February 2021 from four cardiology subspecialties (general cardiology, electrophysiology, heart failure, and interventional cardiology) at a large academic health system in Northern California. There were 21,912 new and return visits with 69% delivered by telemedicine. We used hierarchical logistic regression and cross-validation methods to estimate the variation in visit modality explained by patient, clinician, and visit factors as measured by the mean area under the curve.
RESULTS: Across all subspecialties, the clinician seen was the strongest predictor of telemedicine usage, while primary visit diagnosis was the next most predictive. In general cardiology, the model based on clinician seen had a mean area under the curve of 0.83, the model based on the primary diagnosis had a mean area under the curve of 0.69, and the model based on all patient characteristics combined had a mean area under the curve of 0.56. There was significant variation in telemedicine use across clinicians within each subspecialty, even for visits with the same primary visit diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: Individual clinician practice patterns had the largest influence on visit modality across subspecialties in a large cardiovascular medicine practice, while primary diagnosis was less predictive, and patient characteristics even less so. Cardiovascular clinics should reduce variability in visit modality selection through standardized processes that integrate clinical factors and patient preference.
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