Ophthalmic Virtual Visit Utilization and Patient Satisfaction During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Telemed J E Health. 2022 Jun;28(6):798-805. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2021.0392. Epub 2021 Oct 4.


Background:Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a surge in synchronous ophthalmic telehealth visits. The purpose of this study is to analyze the utilization and patient satisfaction of synchronous ophthalmic video visits over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.Methods:In this retrospective, single-center cross-sectional study, 1,756 patients seen through synchronous video visits between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, were identified using billing codes. E-mails containing a validated, 11-item, telehealth satisfaction scale were sent to patients who had at least one video visit within the study period. Questions were scored on a 1-4 scale, corresponding to poor, fair, good, and excellent. Main outcome measures included patient satisfaction scores, frequency of repeat video visits, and primary visit diagnoses.Results:The top 3 subspecialties by virtual visit volume were oculoplastic surgery (999 visits, 42.9%), neuro-ophthalmology (331 visits, 17.0%), and cornea (254 visits, 14.2%). The top 3 diagnoses seen were chalazion/hordeolum, dry eye, and meibomian gland dysfunction. The overall survey response rate was 14.3% (252 participants). The mean patient satisfaction score was 3.67 ± 0.63, with no significant difference in scores between specialties. A total of 380 (21%) patients had repeat virtual visits. Mean survey response scores were significantly higher for patients with repeat visits than those without (3.82 ± 0.42 vs. 3.62 ± 0.68, p = 0.03). Patients undergoing oculoplastic services were more likely to have repeat visits (odds ratio 2.58, 95% confidence interval 2.18-3.06, p < 0.001). Multivariate regression analysis found that provider thoroughness/skillfulness was the most predictive feature of the patient returning to a telehealth encounter (p = 0.01).Conclusions:Our study suggests that synchronous videoconferencing for ophthalmology is a highly satisfactory delivery method and will likely find continued success in select subspecialties as the pandemic fades.

Keywords: COVID; ophthalmology; telehealth; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine* / methods