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Incorporation of Telemedicine by Rhinologists: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

June 20, 2020

Objectives

The current analysis queries rhinologists’ attitudes about the use of telemedicine, including the degree to which it has impacted practice patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our objective was to survey rhinologists and understand the extent to which telemedicine serves as a rejoinder to in-person consultation: appreciation of relevant factors may be important in planning for present and future considerations.

Methods

A 14-question anonymous survey sent out to the American Rhinologic Society (ARS) membership in April 2020. It included demographic factors and detailed questions examining the extent of telemedicine use. Numerous topics including the degree of use, satisfaction with services, and utility of services were evaluated.

Results

There were 134 respondents. Most reported seeing ≤30% of typical in-person volume, with 14.8% not seeing any patients at all. 88.1% used telemedicine; 82.0% reported some level of satisfaction with telemedicine. The vast majority utilized platforms employing audio and video (83.3%), and a plurality reported spending 5-15 min on calls. Numerous reasons were cited for the use of telemedicine, including significant public health benefits amid the crisis (89.7%). Only 12.0% of respondents reported using telemedicine for hospital consultation.

Conclusion

Rhinologists have embraced telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic in an attempt to improve accessibility, patient satisfaction, and revenue stream. When utilized appropriately, this technology obviates the need for seeing at-risk patients and performing procedures such as nasal endoscopy. Only a minority of rhinologists was dissatisfied, viewing this as a temporary fix during the pandemic.

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