• News
  • News
  • Longitudinal Use of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Utility of Asynchronous Testing for Subspecialty-Level Ophthalmic Care 

Longitudinal Use of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Utility of Asynchronous Testing for Subspecialty-Level Ophthalmic Care 

2023-03-25 12:58:10

Publication by WAEH Member UCSF – Department of Ophthalmology

Importance: Telehealth in ophthalmology has traditionally focused on preventive disease screening with limited use in outpatient evaluation. The unique conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic afforded the opportunity to evaluate different implementations of teleophthalmology at scale, providing insight into expanding teleophthalmology care. 

Objective: To compare telehealth use in ophthalmology with other specialties and assess the feasibility of augmenting ophthalmic telehealth encounters with asynchronous testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Design, setting, and participants: This quality improvement study evaluated retrospective, longitudinal, observational data from the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic (January 1, 2020, through July 31, 2021) for 881 080 patients receiving care from outpatient primary care, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, surgery, neurosurgery, urology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, obstetrics/gynecology, and ophthalmology clinics of the University of California, San Francisco. Asynchronous testing was evaluated for teleophthalmology encounters. 

Interventions: A hybrid care model wherein ophthalmic testing data were acquired asynchronously and used to augment telehealth encounters. 

Main outcomes and measures: Telehealth as a percentage of total volume of ambulatory care and use of asynchronous testing for ophthalmic conditions. 

Results: The volume of in-person outpatient visits dropped by 83.3% (39 488 of 47 390) across the evaluated specialties at the onset of shelter-in-place orders for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the initial use of telehealth increased for these specialties before stabilizing over the 18-month study period. In ophthalmology, telehealth use peaked at 488 of 1575 encounters (31.0%) early in the pandemic and returned to mostly in-person visits as COVID-19 restrictions lifted. Elective use of telehealth was highest in gastroenterology, urology, neurology, and neurosurgery and lowest in ophthalmology. Asynchronous testing was combined with 126 teleophthalmology encounters, resulting in change of clinical management for 32 patients (25.4%) and no change for 91 (72.2%). 

Conclusions and relevance: Telehealth increased across various specialties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Combining teleophthalmic visits with asynchronous testing suggested that this approach is feasible for subspecialty-level evaluation. Additional study is needed to evaluate whether asynchronous testing outside the same institution could provide an effective and lasting approach for expanding the reach of ophthalmic telehealth. 

Read more: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36454548/

More news

Community of Practice – Human Resources 

Are you a Human Resources professional and working in an eyehospital? Join the Communities of Practice about Human Resources. This is a meet up via zoom of one hour in which we share ideas, brainstorm about any topics related to Human Resources. Members: Human Resources professionals working in eyehospitals worldwide. Please join our Community of Practice – […]

Research news from Wilmer Eye – Johns Hopkins

Deep Learning Models May Help Identify Visual Field Worsening A study by Jithin Yohannan, M.D., M.P.H.; Jasdeep Sabharwal, M.D., Ph.D.; Chris Bradley, Ph.D.; Pradeep Ramulu, M.D., Ph.D., the Sheila K. West Professor of Ophthalmology and colleagues demonstrated that a deep learning model trained on a consensus of methods can identify visual field worsening and could help clinicians during routine […]

Newsletter Wills Eye – Full Member of the WAEH

Read more about the Wills Eye, in the newsletter below: Eye Level – Winter 2023 Welcome to the Winter 2023 edition of Eye Level! We hope you enjoy reading about all of the wonderful people and meaningful stories that are coming out of Wills Eye Hospital.  Your generosity is enabling Wills Eye to continue our […]

South Tyneside Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust: new full WAEH member

Sunderland Eye Infirmary provides a whole range of ophthalmic services for the population of Sunderland and the immediate surrounding area and is also a sub-regional centre, servicing the population of the North East of England seeing in the region of 100,000 attendances every year. Nationally renowned for its innovation and high quality services, Sunderland Eye […]

Happy 39th Anniversary to our full member JEC

To all JEC Doctors, management and staffs, it is a pleasure to wish JEC a Happy 39th Anniversary. Success comes with strong determination and with great hard work, which is what we see for sure in JEC. We wish you many more years of innovations and accomplishments! Once again, Happy 39th Anniversary! 

Stay Up to Date With News, Inspirations and Events

A worldwide network of eye hospitals


Maaike van Zuilen,