Overcoming barriers of retinal care delivery during a pandemic-attitudes and drivers for the implementation of digital health: A global expert survey

Livia Faes, Amir Rosenblatt, Roy Schwartz, Sara Touhami, Camila V. Ventura, Irini P. Chatziralli, Jorge Ruiz-Medrano, Denise Vogt, Alfonso Savastano, Humberto Ruiz-Garcia, Dominika Pohlmann, Anat Loewenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background/Aims The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has imposed barriers to retinal care delivery worldwide. In this context, retinal services are exploring novel ways to ensure access to healthcare. Methods We conducted a worldwide survey among retinal specialists between March 31, 2020 and April 12, 2020. The expert survey was developed on the basis of focus group discussions involving retinal specialists and literature searches. It included 44 questions on alternative ways of care provision including digital health domains such as teleophthalmology, home monitoring or decentralised patient care. Results 214 retinal experts participated in the survey, of which 120 (56.1%) had more than 15 years of experience in ophthalmology. Most participants were clinicians (n=158, 73.9%) practising in Western Europe (n=159, 74%). In the majority of institutions, teleophthalmology, home monitoring and decentralised patient care have not been implemented before the pandemic (n=46, 21.8.1%; n=64, 29.9%; n=38, 19.1%). During the pandemic, the use of teleophthalmology and home monitoring increased significantly (n=105, p<0.001; n=90, p<0.001). In the subgroup of institutions reporting no teleophthalmology service before and implementing a service during the pandemic (34/70, 48.6%), reimbursement was the sole significant parameter (OR 9.62 (95% CI 2.42 to 38.16); p<0.001). Conclusion Digital health is taking the centre stage tackling unpreceded challenges of retinal care delivery during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and may sustainably change the way we practice ophthalmology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1738-1743
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume105
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Retina
  • Telemedicine

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