This article is part of Ophthalmology Advisor’s conference coverage from the 2021 meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), held virtually from May 1 to 7, 2021. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on a variety of the research presented by the eye and vision experts at ARVO. Check back for more from the ARVO 2021 Meeting.
Teleophthalmology may be a viable alternative for patient care, suggested by the similar numbers of follow-up, referral and outpatient surgery outcomes across virtual and in-person visits, according to findings presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2021 Annual Meeting, held virtually May 1 to May 7.
Researchers conducted a retrospective, observational study at the Cole Eye Institute in Cleveland to characterize the use of virtual visits and compare their outcomes to in-person visits during the pandemic. The study compared 2266 virtual and 2590 in-person visits.
A planned follow-up resulted from 72.3% of virtual visits, compared with 70.3% following an in-person visit (P <.121). The amount of virtual patients who were discharged (15.9%) was slightly higher compared to in-person patients (10.8%, P <.001), and there was a similar number of virtual patients and in-person patients who were referred to a primary care doctor or different ophthalmology subspecialty (P =.081).
Regarding scheduled procedures, there was a similar number of virtual and in-person patients who had planned an outpatient surgery (6.0% vs 4.8%, respectively, P =.08), but the number of scheduled clinic procedures was slightly higher in in-person patients than in virtual patients (7.2% vs 0.2%, P <.001). Finally, cancellations (4.6% virtual, 3.5% in-person, P =.11), and no-shows (2.8% virtual, 2.1% in-person, P =.2) were similar between the groups.
The researchers conclude that, although most data was similar between the virtual and in-person groups during the pandemic, a higher risk of care discontinuation in virtual settings is implied. This pattern is shown by findings that virtual follow-ups occurred more often after virtual visits than after in-person visits, and discharges and unscheduled follow-up visits were more prevalent in the virtual setting.
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Valentim C, Muste J, Iyer A, et al. Characterization and outcomes of virtual visit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Poster presented at: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO); May 1-7, 2021; virtual. Abstract: 3537131