This article is part of Ophthalmology Advisor’s Focus on Retina coverage from the 2021 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, held in New Orleans from November 12 to 15, 2021. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on a variety of the research presented by the retinal experts at the AAO. Check back for more from the AAO 2021 Meeting.
Telehealth appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic increased the likelihood that patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) will return for in-person eye appointments, according to a retrospective cross-sectional study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2021 Annual Meeting, held in New Orleans from November 12 to November 15.
Investigators included patients with DM who were seen in an outpatient ophthalmology clinic in 2019 and were due for a diabetic eye examination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of the 8164 total patients who visited the clinic, 1770 patients completed a telehealth appointment and were more likely to return for an in-person eye exam during the COVID-19 pandemic (OR 1.57; 95% CI, 1.4-1.7; P <.001).
Researchers found that telehealth had a more positive impact on patients from racial/ethnic minority groups given that non-White and/or Hispanic patients were more likely to return for in-person eye appointments following telehealth encounters (OR 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5-2.5; P <.001) in comparison with White and non-Hispanic patients (OR 1.5; 95% CI, 1.3-1.7; P <.001) (z-score = 2.73, P =.006). However, the primary language the patient spoke was not found to have any bearing on telehealth’s effectiveness.
“Telehealth initiatives can improve the likelihood that patients with DM will return for recommended in-person eye examinations,” researchers concluded.
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Ramsey DJ, Latulippe K, Marx JL, Roh S. Telehealth encourages more minority patients with diabetes to return for in-person care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paper Presented at: American Academy of Ophthalmology 2021 Annual Meeting; November 12-15, 2021; New Orleans. Abstract PA061.