Telehealth Adoption and Perspectives Among Pediatric Otolaryngologists Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2023 Sep;132(9):1012-1017. doi: 10.1177/00034894221129014. Epub 2022 Oct 11.


Objectives: To assess use of and physician experiences with pediatric otolaryngology telehealth visits as impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study design/setting: Cross sectional survey.

Methods: A 15-question survey was electronically distributed to 656 members of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology in August 2021, addressing member demographics, experiential practice elements, and use pre-pandemic, during the initial shutdown period of March-May 2020, and current use at the time of survey inquiry.

Results: There were 124 respondents (response rate = 18.9%). Incident use pre-pandemic and during the shutdown were 21.0% (n = 26), and 92.7% (n = 115), respectively. Current use was 83.9% (n = 104) and the percentage of new current users (79.5%, n = 78) was significant (P < .0001,95% CI = 70.6%-86.4%). Estimated median telehealth visit rates pre-pandemic, during shutdown, and currently were 0 to 1, 4 to 5, and 2 to 3 per week, respectively (P < .0001). A difference in post-covid adoption rates was noted only for location (P = .008), with no differences for years out of training or practice type. Compared to in-person visits, physician satisfaction with telehealth visits was rated equivalent (49.0%) or worse/much worse (48.1%). The most common telehealth uses were follow-up visits (83.7%), pre-operative counseling (76.9%), and post-operative evaluation (69.2%). The need for a detailed exam (89.4%) and initial visits (32.7%) were reasons a telehealth visit was not offered.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have precipitated a rapid increase in telehealth adoption among surveyed pediatric otolaryngologists, regardless of age or practice type. The most significant limitations remain the need for a detailed exam, perceived low patient technological literacy, and limitations to interpretive services. Technology-based optimization of these barriers could lead to increased use and physician satisfaction.

Keywords: COVID-19; otolaryngology; pediatric otolaryngology; telehealth; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Otolaryngologists
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine*