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Implementation of Telemedicine in a Laryngology Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned, Experiences Shared.

Abstract

Objectives

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 has posed significant limitations and barriers to providing in-person healthcare. We aim to provide a summary of learned experiences and important considerations for implementing and offering telehealth to provide laryngology subspecialty care during the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter.

Materials and methods

Four laryngologists and a voice-specialized speech-language pathologist from a tertiary-care academic Voice and Swallowing Center were engaged in a structured group consensus conference. Participants shared input, experiences, and practice patterns employed via telemedicine (via telephone or video-communication) during the early COVID-19 era.

Results

Key identified areas of consideration when offering telemedicine included (1) how to set up and structure a telemedicine visit and maintain patient confidentiality, (2) patient examination and treatment initiation, (3) optimization of the tele-visit, (4) limitations and recognition of when a tele-visit is insufficient for patient care needs, (5) billing/reimbursement considerations. Group consensus for the aforementioned topics is summarized and discussed.

Conclusion

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a telemedicine model can be effectively employed to improve patient access to subspecialty laryngology care, including a multidisciplinary care approach, with initiation of various therapeutic interventions. A major limitation given the preclusion of in-person assessment is the lack of access to laryngoscopy, which can likely be delayed safely in the majority of individuals.

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