Telehealth Usage in Otolaryngology: A Comparative Study Pre- and Post-COVID-19

OTO Open. 2024 Jan 27;8(1):e109. doi: 10.1002/oto2.109. eCollection 2024 Jan-Mar.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic led to increased telehealth utilization in outpatient otolaryngology settings. While other studies on telehealth usage in otolaryngology settings have focused on demographic disparities during the pandemic, none have yet assessed how these demographic disparities have evolved from before versus after the pandemic. This study examines 4 recent consecutive years of demographic and clinical data from a large hospital system to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed demographic patterns in telehealth utilization. We demonstrate substantial increases in the number of otolaryngology patients participating in telehealth since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but with no differences in patient distributions by race or ethnicity over time. We also found that telehealth patients, on average, were younger, more likely to be English-speaking, and more likely to be female. While these disparities widened slightly after the start of the pandemic, they were also present prior to the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID‐19; access; demographics; health equity; telehealth; telemedicine.