• Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Pediatric Ophth/Strabismus

    Review of: Telemedicine utilization by pediatric ophthalmologists during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Vongsachang H, Lagstein O, Boland M, et al. Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, October 2021

    Investigators compared telemedicine utilization among pediatric ophthalmologists in the United States at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and several months into the pandemic.

    Study design

    An online survey was disseminated to 353 pediatric ophthalmologists at 2time points: March/April 2020 (representing widespread office shutdown) and July/August 2020 (at a time of easing of stay-at-home restrictions and resumption of in-person visits), with questions regarding utilization of telemedicine as well as respondent demographics and practice characteristics.

    Outcomes

    Pediatric ophthalmologists were more likely to report using telemedicine in March/April 2020 (n = 171) than in July/August 2020 (n = 104). Barriers to continued use of telemedicine included limitations in care, time inefficiency, challenges in implementation, perceived negative effects of the doctor-patient relationship, low interest from staff and patients, and new state and local guidelines allowing for the reintroduction of in-patient visits.

    Limitations

    The main limitations in this study were the low response rate and uncertainty regarding whether there was respondent overlap in the 2 surveys.

    Clinical significance

    Telemedicine had not found sustained use in pediatric ophthalmology (or ophthalmology in general) prior to the pandemic. Despite multiple approaches to improve telemedicine as part of pandemic response plans, including better technology and greater reimbursement, telemedicine would need significant improvements before being used as an integral part of pediatric ophthalmology care.