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Embracing Telemedicine as an Otolaryngologist

Telemedicine: Practical Tips for Implementation into Your Daily Practice

Saturday, October 24, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm (ET)


David S. Cohen, MD

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust telemedicine into the fast lane for many medical specialties, and otolaryngology is no exception—but figuring out how to use it to its full potential is another matter.

“Otolaryngology is a specialty that lends itself often to very specialized and nuanced exams, such as microscopy and endoscopy,” said David S. Cohen, MD, of Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group and moderator of Saturday’s session. “The traditional thinking is that if the physical exam is unable to be completed by the patients over video, or by the referring physicians, there is ‘no use’ for telemedicine for otolaryngologists.”

But Dr. Cohen says this is not the case—and that, in fact, telemedicine has immense potential and can be used not necessarily as a replacement tool but as an adjunct.

“First, it can serve as a method of triaging patients, to make sure that their evaluations, labs, imaging, and other necessary workup is complete,” he said. “Also, it can help set up the face-to-face visit to ensure that logistically their visit goes smoothly: Maybe there are some more limitations in terms of number of endoscopies that can be completed or number of patients that can be seen in a half day. Each clinical practice has their own myriad of concerns to address in the COVID-19 age and having a telemedicine visit prior to their face-to-face visit can certainly optimize a patient’s care and minimize their exposure to COVID-19 with the right precautions.”

Electronic health records, said Dr. Cohen, are another consideration and aid in the possibility of virtual consultation as they become more and more interoperable with increasing transparency.

“A patient with a thyroid nodule that has undergone imaging and biopsy that is viewable by the otolaryngologist may be able to be counseled on surgery, book their surgery, and arrange for a pre-operative face-to-face visit, all virtually without needing to physically see the otolaryngologist.” Dr. Cohen noted that this can help with access issues in low resource areas as well.

This is not to say, though, that telemedicine does not come with its own hurdles. Reimbursement rates continue to be an issue, and while the relaxation of associated rules for video visits came into play early on in the pandemic, telephone and email visits are still not reimbursed.

“Even with these allowances, the future remains unknown,” said Dr. Cohen.

If you miss this live event, it will become available in the on-demand library of education content within 72 hours following the presentation.