Telemedicine

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Armstrong GW, Kalra G, De Arrigunaga S, Friedman DS, Lorch AC. Anterior Segment Imaging Devices in Ophthalmic Telemedicine. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):149-156.Abstract
Obtaining a clear assessment of the anterior segment is critical for disease diagnosis and management in ophthalmic telemedicine. The anterior segment can be imaged with slit lamp cameras, robotic remote controlled slit lamps, cell phones, cell phone adapters, digital cameras, and webcams, all of which can enable remote care. The ability of these devices to identify various ophthalmic diseases has been studied, including cataracts, as well as abnormalities of the ocular adnexa, cornea, and anterior chamber. This article reviews the current state of anterior segment imaging for the purpose of ophthalmic telemedical care.
Aziz K, Moon JY, Parikh R, Lorch AC, Friedman DS, Miller JB, Armstrong GW. Association of Patient Characteristics With Delivery of Ophthalmic Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Ophthalmol 2021;Abstract
Importance: Telemedicine has been shown to have had reduced uptake among historically marginalized populations within multiple medical specialties during the COVID-19 pandemic. An evaluation of health disparities among patients receiving ophthalmic telemedical care during the pandemic is needed. Objective: To evaluate disparities in the delivery of ophthalmic telemedicine at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective, cross-sectional study analyzed clinical visits at a single tertiary eye care center (MEE) from January 1 to December 31, 2020. Patients who had ophthalmology and optometry clinical visits at the MEE during the study period were included. Exposures: Telemedicine vs in-person clinical encounters. Main Outcomes and Measures: Variables associated with use of ophthalmic telemedicine during the study period. Results: A total of 2262 telemedicine ophthalmic encounters for 1911 patients were included in the analysis. The median age of the patients was 61 (interquartile range, 43-72) years, and 1179 (61.70%) were women. With regard to race and ethnicity, 87 patients (4.55%) identified as Asian; 128 (6.70%), as Black or African American; 23 (1.20%), as Hispanic or Latino; and 1455 (76.14%), as White. On multivariate analysis, factors associated with decreased receipt of telemedical care included male sex (odds ratio [OR], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.77-0.96), Black race (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.56-0.86), not speaking English (OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.48-0.81), educational level of high school or less (OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.71-0.97), and age (OR per year of age, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.989-0.998). When comparing telephone- and video-based telemedicine visits, decreased participation in video-based visits was associated with age (OR per year of age, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.98), educational level of high school or less (OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.29-0.99), being unemployed (OR, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.68), being retired (OR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.10-0.42), or having a disability (OR, 0.09; 95% CI, 0.04-0.23). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this cross-sectional study, though limited to retrospective data from a single university-based practice, suggest that historically marginalized populations were less likely to receive ophthalmic telemedical care compared with in-person care during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Understanding the causes of these disparities might help those who need access to virtual care.
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Barrero-Castillero A, Corwin BK, VanderVeen DK, Wang JC. Workforce Shortage for Retinopathy of Prematurity Care and Emerging Role of Telehealth and Artificial Intelligence. Pediatr Clin North Am 2020;67(4):725-733.Abstract
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is the leading cause of childhood blindness in very-low-birthweight and very preterm infants in the United States. With improved survival of smaller babies, more infants are at risk for ROP, yet there is an increasing shortage of providers to screen and treat ROP. Through a literature review of new and emerging technologies, screening criteria, and analysis of a national survey of pediatric ophthalmologists and retinal specialists, the authors found the shortage of ophthalmology workforce for ROP a serious and growing concern. When used appropriately, emerging technologies have the potential to mitigate gaps in the ROP workforce.
Bowe T, Hunter DG, Mantagos IS, Kazlas M, Jastrzembski BG, Gaier ED, Massey G, Franz K, Schumann C, Brown C, Meyers H, Shah AS. Virtual Visits in Ophthalmology: Timely Advice for Implementation During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis. Telemed J E Health 2020;26(9):1113-1117.Abstract
Virtual visits (VVs) are necessitated due to the public health crisis and social distancing mandates due to COVID-19. However, these have been rare in ophthalmology. Over 3.5 years of conducting >350 ophthalmological VVs, our group has gained numerous insights into best practices. This communication shares these experiences with the medical community to support patient care during this difficult time and beyond. We highlight that mastering the technological platform of choice, optimizing lighting, camera positioning, and "eye contact," being thoughtful and creative with the virtual eye examination, and ensuring good documenting and billing will make a successful and efficient VV. Moreover, we think these ideas will stimulate further VV creativity and expertise to be developed in ophthalmology and across medicine. This approach, holds promise for increasing its adoption after the crisis has passed.
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De Arrigunaga S, Aziz K, Lorch AC, Friedman DS, Armstrong GW. A Review of Ophthalmic Telemedicine for Emergency Department Settings. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;:1-8.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Patients presenting to emergency departments for ophthalmic emergencies benefit from prompt evaluation. However, Few emergency departments (EDs) have ophthalmologists on call, and eye care provided in EDs without ophthalmic services can be inaccurate. METHODS: We review the current state of ophthalmic telemedical care in EDs and highlight important considerations when implementing telemedicine in this setting. RESULTS: Telemedicine allows ophthalmologists to work with on-site emergency care providers to interview and examine patients remotely in EDs, enabling proper assessment of patient history, visual acuity, pupils, intraocular pressure, as well as the anterior and posterior segment. To date, patients' perceptions of this new model of care have been largely positive. DISCUSSION: The use of telemedical consultations for remote evaluation of patients with ophthalmic complaints stands to improve the quality of care provided to patients and extend the reach of remote ophthalmologists. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of in-person care further highlights the potential for telemedicine to augment existing models of emergency care.
Dobry A, Begaj T, Mengistu K, Sinha S, Droms R, Dunlap R, Wu D, Adhami K, Stavert R. Implementation and Impact of a Store-and-Forward Teledermatology Platform in an Urban Academic Safety-Net Health Care System. Telemed J E Health 2021;27(3):308-315.Abstract
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Ebrahimiadib N, Fadakar K, Riazi-Esfahani H, Zarei M, Maleki A, Bojabadi L, Ahmadi A, Look-Why S, Foster CS. COVID-19 and Immunosuppressive Therapy in Ocular Inflammatory Disease, a Telemedicine Survey. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 2021;:1-7.Abstract
Purpose: Determine the risk of immunomodulatory therapy (IMT) for COVID-19 infection morbidity.Method: A telemedicine survey on patients of a referral uveitis clinic was performed. Signs of infection, habits, and hospitalizations during the 7 months of the COVID-19 pandemic prior to the study date were recorded. Suggestive findings in chest CT scan and/or positive RT-PCR were considered as confirmed COVID-19 infection while those with only suggestive symptoms were considered as suspected cases. Risk factors including sanitary measures and IMT were compared between patients with confirmed cases and patients without infection.Result: 694 patients were included. Eight patients were identified as confirmed cases and 22 patients as suspected cases of COVID-19 infection. Close contact with infected persons was the only significant risk factor for contracting COVID-19.Conclusion: Using IMT did not affect hospitalization and/or ICU admission and can thus be continued during the pandemic, provided that instructions for preventive measures are followed.
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Parikh D, Armstrong G, Liou V, Husain D. Advances in Telemedicine in Ophthalmology. Semin Ophthalmol 2020;:1-6.Abstract
Telemedicine is the provision of healthcare-related services from a distance and is poised to move healthcare from the physician's office back into the patient's home. The field of ophthalmology is often at the forefront of technological advances in medicine including telemedicine and the use of artificial intelligence. Multiple studies have demonstrated the reliability of tele-ophthalmology for use in screening and diagnostics and have demonstrated benefits to patients, physicians, as well as payors. There remain obstacles to widespread implementation, but recent legislation and regulation passed due to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic have helped to reduce some of these barriers. This review describes the current status of tele-ophthalmology in the United States including benefits, hurdles, current programs, technology, and developments in artificial intelligence. With ongoing advances patients may benefit from improved detection and earlier treatment of eye diseases, resulting in better care and improved visual outcomes.
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Shah YS, Fliotsos MJ, Alaqeel A, Boland MV, Zafar S, Srikumaran D, Woreta FA. Use of Teleophthalmology for Evaluation of Ophthalmic Emergencies by Ophthalmology Residents in the Emergency Department. Telemed J E Health 2021;Abstract
Background: Utilizing telemedicine is one approach to reduce the ever-increasing burden of patients on emergency departments (EDs) and consulting physicians. Utilization of telemedicine services in the ED may also benefit resident education. Materials and Methods: Ten first-year ophthalmology residents were trained to use a Topcon 3D Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)-1 Maestro to capture OCT images and fundus photos in patients presenting to the ED with urgent ophthalmic concerns. Findings were communicated to the supervising ophthalmologist. Retrospective chart review was conducted to obtain patient characteristics and final ophthalmologist diagnosis. Residents rated ease of use, technical reliability, and educational value through a survey. Results: From December 1, 2019, to December 1, 2020, the device was used in 109 patient encounters, capturing 887 images (average 8.1 images per encounter). Patients on whom the device was used were on average 48.5 years old (±17.2, range 17-90) and 59.6% were female. The imaging device was utilized most commonly for evaluating papilledema (n = 21, 18.6%), new-onset visual acuity/visual field defects (n = 12, 10.6%), retinal detachment/tear (n = 8, 7.1%), and ophthalmic trauma workup (n = 8, 7.1%). Eight residents completed the survey and most (n = 7) agreed or strongly agreed that the device helped them diagnose patients more accurately. Technical issues such as machine malfunction, image artifacts, and problems syncing with the electronic health record and computer were noted by survey respondents. Conclusions: The most common use of teleophthalmology in the ED setting was evaluation of papilledema; the majority of residents perceived an educational benefit from this tool. Efforts should be made to address the technical challenges to increase the utility of this device.
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Wendt S, Abdullah Z, Barrett S, Daruwalla C, Go JA, Le B, Li E, Livingston C, Miller M, Nakhleh L, Pecha J, Pothula S, Pradhan S, Sathappan V, Shah A, Sonuyi A-M, Ugoh P, Wang Q, Weber N, Succar T, Blieden L, Mortensen P, Elkin Z, Sun G, Lee AG. A virtual COVID-19 ophthalmology rotation. Surv Ophthalmol 2021;66(2):354-361.Abstract
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic temporarily suspended medical student involvement in clinical rotations, resulting in the need to develop virtual clinical experiences. The cancellation of clinical ophthalmology electives and away rotations reduces opportunities for exposure to the field, to network with faculty, conduct research, and prepare for residency applications. We review the literature and discuss the impact and consequences of COVID-19 on undergraduate medical education with an emphasis on ophthalmic undergraduate medical education. We also discuss innovative learning modalities used from medical schools around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic such as virtual didactics, online cases, and telehealth. Finally, we describe a novel, virtual neuro-ophthalmology elective created to educate medical students on neuro-ophthalmology foundational principles, provide research and presentation opportunities, and build relationships with faculty members. These innovative approaches represent a step forward in further improving medical education in ophthalmology during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.