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Otolaryngology During and After COVID-19

The Future of Otolaryngology Practice

Monday, September 14, 10:00 – 11:00 am (ET)

Comprehensive Otolaryngology Track


Gavin Setzen, MD

The AAO-HNS Future of Otolaryngology Task Force, in collaboration with specialty societies, picked up the mantle of providing the global otolaryngology community with the necessary information and resources to navigate the practice landscape in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In advance of Monday’s session, Gavin Setzen, MD, Chair of the task force answered a few questions about how otolaryngology has already changed as a result of COVID-19 and how he expects it to change in the months and years to come. Joining Dr. Setzen for this Panel Presentation are Ronald B. Kuppersmith, MD, MBA, Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, and James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F Executive Vice President and CEO.

Q: What has the Future of Otolaryngology Task Force been doing during the pandemic? 

A: The Future of Otolaryngology Task Force has remained an active resource for membership outreach and guidance regarding evolving issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, specific to the return to practice, both clinical and surgical in all-care settings. We monitor changes and recommendations related to theoretical risk of transmission, risk mitigation, changes in PPE recommendations, etc., that impact physician and patient safety.

Q: How has the pandemic changed the way otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons practice?

A: The pandemic had a profound impact early on, substantially reducing clinical practice, with transition to telemedicine for most patients other than those with urgent clinical problems. In-person visits declined 70-90% in certain parts of the country. In-office and elective surgical procedures ceased. Nationally, a gradual and differential recovery has taken place with resumption of in-person care and elective surgery. There have been significant changes with respect to implementation of CDC and other regulatory guidelines with respect to maintaining a safe clinical environment, with changes to regular patient processes like check-in/checkout, workflow and throughput, social distancing, PPE, and sanitization protocols. There have also been changes with respect to how otolaryngologists perform certain diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to ensure patient, staff, and physician safety.

Q: How do you think otolaryngology will evolve in the future as a result of the pandemic?

A: Otolaryngologists have been quick to embrace and implement advanced digital processes to facilitate “low-touch” patient encounters. Increased adoption of digital platforms will likely continue in otolaryngology. There will be continued emphasis on developing safety protocols both in the clinic/office and operating room settings. The use of telehealth will continue in our field, albeit to a lesser extent than other medical disciplines, offering opportunities for practice diversification and enhanced patient access. Most of all, otolaryngologists will continue to provide the full spectrum of medical and surgical care for patients with ear, nose, throat, and head and neck problems.

If you miss this live event, it will be available in the on-demand library of education content within 48 hours following the presentation.