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Outcomes of a Hybrid Ophthalmology Telemedicine Model for Outpatient Eye Care During COVID-19

HumanInsight Outcomes of a Hybrid Ophthalmology Telemedicine Model for Outpatient Eye Care During COVID-19

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Aug 1;5(8):e2226292. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.26292.


IMPORTANCE: The hybrid ophthalmology telemedicine model asynchronously pairs an imaging appointment by a technician with a subsequent virtual appointment by a clinician. Although it has been mentioned in several studies as an alternative to standard in-person care during the COVID-19 pandemic, outcomes of this alternative clinical care model remain to be evaluated.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the outcomes associated with the hybrid ophthalmology telemedicine model during the COVID-19 pandemic for nonurgent and nonprocedural ophthalmological care.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Retrospective, cross-sectional study of all hybrid visits scheduled during the year 2020 in a single academic, hospital-based eye clinic in Boston, Massachusetts. All hybrid ophthalmology telemedicine visits completed in the year 2020 by opthalmologists and optometrists were included. Data were analyzed from January to December 2020.

EXPOSURES: Hybrid telemedicine clinical encounters.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Four outcome metrics were calculated: (1) need for subsequent procedure visit, (2) medication change, (3) nonurgent, and (4) urgent consultation with another eye clinician. Adverse outcomes were defined as irreversible vision loss and the need for additional in-person evaluation to reach a management decision.

RESULTS: From April 9 to December 30, 2020, 889 patients (506 female patients [56.9%]; mean [SD] age, 62.1 [14.5] years; age range, 13-98 years) completed 940 hybrid visits. The most common visit indications were glaucoma (424 visits [45.1%]) and retinal diseases (499 visits [53.1%]). A total of 25 visits (2.7%) led to a procedure, 22 visits (2.3%) led to a change in medication, and 44 visits (4.7%) were referred for nonurgent consultation with another subspecialty with no instances of urgent referrals. Sixteen patients (1.7%) were referred to the on-call clinician for a same-day emergency in-person visit or recommended for a subsequent standard in-person visit to reach a management decision. There were no cases of irreversible vision loss following a hybrid visit.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These findings suggest that with the appropriate patient selection and clinical setting, the hybrid ophthalmology telemedicine model may be a good alternative to standard in-person visits, particularly for patients with glaucoma and retinal diseases.

PMID:36006645 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.26292

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