COVID-19 telehealth preparedness: a cross-sectional assessment of cardiology practices in the USA

Per Med. 2022 Sep;19(5):411-422. doi: 10.2217/pme-2021-0179. Epub 2022 Aug 1.


Aim: The COVID-19 pandemic forced medical practices to augment healthcare delivery to remote and virtual services. We describe the results of a nationwide survey of cardiovascular professionals regarding telehealth perspectives. Materials & methods: A 31-question survey was sent early in the pandemic to assess the impact of COVID-19 on telehealth adoption & reimbursement. Results: A total of 342 clinicians across 42 states participated. 77% were using telehealth, with the majority initiating usage 2 months after the COVID-19 shutdown. A variety of video-based systems were used. Telehealth integration requirements differed, with electronic medical record integration being mandated in more urban than rural practices (70 vs 59%; p < 0.005). Many implementation barriers surfaced, with over 75% of respondents emphasizing reimbursement uncertainty and concerns for telehealth generalizability given the complexity of cardiovascular diseases. Conclusion: Substantial variation exists in telehealth practices. Further studies and legislation are needed to improve access, reimbursement and the quality of telehealth-based cardiovascular care.

Keywords: COVID-19; access to care; electronic medical record; healthcare access; pandemic; payment parity; reimbursement; telehealth; telemedicine; video-visitations.

Plain language summary

As the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning, the American College of Cardiology administered a survey to cardiology professionals across the USA regarding their preparedness for telehealth and video-visits. The results demonstrated rapid adoption of video based telehealth services, however revealed uncertainty for how to best use these services in different practice settings. Many providers expressed concerns about how these visits will be compensated, but fortunately federal agencies have dramatically changed the way telehealth is reimbursed as the pandemic has progressed. Further studies are needed to explore the impact of telehealth on healthcare inequality, however we hope that rather it serves to increase healthcare access to all.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cardiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • United States / epidemiology