Teleophthalmology: Who’s adopting it and who’s lagging behind?

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Compared to other surgical specialties, ophthalmology was slow to utilize telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, with adoption varying based on a number of characteristics, according to a study.

Below are some key takeaways from the study:

  • Women ophthalmologists were more likely than men to use telemedicine.
  • OD specialists were more likely than providers with an MD, MBBCh, or MBBS or with a PhD, MPH, MHS, or MS to use telemedicine. 
  • Cornea, glaucoma, and retina specialists were less likely to use telemedicine.
  • Full professors were less likely to use telemedicine than clinical assistants, clinical associates, and instructors and associate professors.
  • Doctors who practiced for ≥36 were less likely to use telemedicine compared with providers those who have been in practice for ≤11 years.

“In our study, some provider characteristics emerged as predicters of who will try and who might need more support or technology to adopt telemedicine as the pandemic persists,” the authors wrote. “Our evidence suggests that providers with more years in practice and providers of more senior academic rank (i.e., professors), for example, may need more encouragement to incorporate telemedicine into their practice.”

Aguwa UT, Aguwa CJ, Repka M, et al. Teleophthalmology in the Era of COVID-19: Characteristics of early adopters at a large academic institution. Telemed J E Health. 2020. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2020.0372. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33074795.

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