Background: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid increase in telemedicine visits. Otolaryngology patient satisfaction with these visits has not yet been extensively studied using a validated survey. Methods: All patients who had telemedicine visits with three head and neck surgeons, by phone or video-based platform, between March 25, 2020 and April 24, 2020. Retrospective chart reviews were conducted to determine demographic, disease and treatment information. Patients who had a video visit were contacted by telephone and, if they could be reached and consented, were administered the Telehealth Usability Questionnaire (TUQ).Results: 100 surveys were completed. The average score across all questions was 6.01 on a scale from 1-7, where 7 indicated the highest level of patient agreement. The highest scores were for questions related to satisfaction with telehealth (6.29), while the lowest were related to reliability (4.86). Conclusions: Patients are generally highly satisfied with telemedicine.
Background Telehealth post-operative visits are an attractive strategy to minimize exposure, especially during the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. The use of a surgical drain often prevents this minimal-exposure approach in that patients return to the outpatient clinic for drain removal. Methods and Results Following unilateral neck dissection, the customary closed-suction drain was replaced with a self-removing, passive drain dressing to facilitate same-day discharge and telehealth post-operative follow-up. The patient removed the dressing and drain at home during a telehealth visit on post-operative day four and she healed favorably without signs of infection or seroma. Conclusions When thoughtfully applied in the appropriate clinical context, small practice adaptations like this can facilitate telehealth solutions that diminish unnecessary exposure for patients, their caregivers, and healthcare staff.
Introduction:The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was initially identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Following its spread across the globe within a matter of months, the World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic.1 Its rapid transmission and high hospitalization rate have forced health professionals to drastically alter their practices in order to slow its proliferation. The rapid influx of COVID-19 related admissions in hospitals around the United States has led to a widespread shortage of crucial healthcare resources, particularly personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and free ICU beds. Surgical procedures further deplete such resources in a time of acutely high need. Additionally, evidence has shown that healthcare workers may be particularly susceptible to infection from the causative pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, with roughly 20% of exposed professionals becoming infected in Italy.2Following these developments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all inpatient facilities postpone or cancel any elective surgeries.3 In the ensuing weeks, the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery followed suit with this recommendation.4,5Furthermore, many hospitals and practices have opted to cancel in-person outpatient clinic visits, where patients oftentimes receive critical longitudinal care. Like other surgeons, otolaryngologists, and specifically head and neck surgical oncologists, have been deeply affected by these drastic measures. It is evident, however, that physicians must find ways to continue to monitor such patients’ conditions or treat them in some aspect. The popularity and prevalence of telemedicine has grown rapidly during this pandemic as many physicians have sought ways to maintain a continuum of care with their patients.6 Such initiatives have previously been shown to decrease costs, decrease visit time, and lead to high patient satisfaction in surgical fields.7,8Within otolaryngology specifically, certain telehealth assessments have been shown to allow for quicker examinations without compromising the communication of crucial information from the patient to the physician, or vice versa.9 However, the rapid implementation of telehealth has been a relatively new phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that physicians oftentimes have to learn how to optimize their virtual visits to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness. In otolaryngology, telemedicine has not been routinely used to evaluate patients, despite estimates that 62% of otolaryngology patients would be amenable to virtual appointments.10Thus, it may be difficult for physicians to anticipate barriers to their care during a telehealth visit. Based on the authors’ experience, there exists a steep learning curve following the onset of such visits due to a variety of factors on both the patient’s and physician’s side.To our knowledge, there are no set guidelines or best practices for patients or head and neck cancer physicians conducting virtual visits. Drawing upon our experience, we aim to compile a set of guidelines for physicians and patients alike to navigate telehealth visits during the era of COVID-19. We also created a handout that can be distributed to patients prior to the visit, such that patients can familiarize themselves with general expectations and key examination steps that they may be asked to perform during the visit.
Multidisciplinary conferences (MDC) are an important component of head and neck oncologic care including diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Virtual MDC allows for improved collaboration between providers at distant sites and proper allocation of healthcare resources in a time of crisis. When approached systematically, a virtual MDC is feasible to design and implement in a large academic medical center with multiple satellite hospitals.
The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has presented the world and physicians with a unique public health challenge. In light of its high transmissibility and large burden on the healthcare system, many hospitals and practices have opted to cancel elective surgeries in order to mobilize resources, ration personal protective equipment and guard patients from the virus. Head and neck cancer physicians are particularly affected by these changes given their scope of practice, complex patient population, and interventional focus. In this viewpoint, we discuss some of the many challenges faced by head and neck surgeons in this climate. Additionally, we outline the utility of telemedicine as a potential strategy for allowing physicians to maintain an effective continuum of care.