The last three months of 2020 were faced with a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, but the number of outpatients visiting cardiologists reduced significantly compared to other specialties. The decline was about 20% from a March baseline.
A survey made by Amwell, a telehealth vendor, suggests that heart specialists are involved in the virtual care rapid growth. The C.M.S. reimbursement policies receiving changes also facilitated the development of telemedicine services among patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic leads to the widespread acceptance of telemedicine. This set a platform for remote visits to be a significant part of cardiovascular care. Researchers from Smidt Heart Institute found out that there were 176,781 cardiology visits upon examination of the E.H.R. data.
Researchers were also able to reveal that patients from ethnic and racial minority groups were most likely to prefer remote care. They also deduced that essential workers from the said population found it difficult to attend one on one medical appointments.
The flaw that was found in the telehealth services was that most patients were not likely to receive a diagnostic test or medication. It was then found out that it was not because of healthier patients preferring remote care. In fact, patients preferring remote care more likely to have medical comorbidities.
Studies made before the introduction of telehealth visits feared that it could lead to overprescription of medication or unnecessary testing. This was not the case as the rate of diagnostic testing reduced with the introduction of remote care.
The common diagnostic test in cardiology was composed of transthoracic echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, nuclear stress imaging, exercise stress E.C.G., stress echocardiogram. Some of the laboratory tests were composed of complete blood count, lipid panel, coagulation studies, and metabolic panel.
Researchers concluded because there were fewer formal guidelines regarding proper practices for cardiology telehealth services, it was likely to be faced by accidental consequences that are yet to be discovered.
Joseph Ebinger, Smidt’s heart head of clinical analytics, suggested that cardiovascular vascular care be reserved for high-risk marginalized communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was not the case, as studies revealed otherwise. He then recommended further studies to identify the root cause of the problem.
Joseph Ebinger was concerned whether the reduced ordering of tests led to fewer diagnoses or was an opportunity to increase efficiency by reducing the types of care that were not contributing, especially in in-person visitations.