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Telemedicine’s Meteoric Rise

The Future of Telemedicine in Otolaryngology

Sunday, September 13, 11:30 am – 12:00 pm (ET)

Comprehensive Otolaryngology Track


Douglas M. Hildrew, MD

None of us could have predicted how crucial telemedicine would be in 2020—not even Douglas M. Hildrew, MD, Chair of the recently reactivated AAO-HNS Telemedicine Committee. The decision was made to revive the committee in the later parts of 2019, but when COVID-19 arrived in 2020, things moved much faster than anticipated.

“We started the year off drafting a set of plans to boost overall participation and overcome restrictive regulations within telemedicine,” said Dr. Hildrew. “Then COVID-19 hit and all of those plans became irrelevant. In a single day, 10 years of hard work and incremental progress were completely bypassed. Physician interest and participation became universal when changes in FDA/HIPAA regulations removed the pre-existing restrictive regulations. Once payors showed a commitment for parity in reimbursement with telemedicine visits versus traditional in-person clinic visits, the writing was on the wall—the centuries old dogma of how to practice medicine was obsolete and telemedicine had become king.”

This does not, however, mean that the American or global physician workforces were suddenly made up of telemedicine pros.

“We were suddenly thrown into a model that we don’t have a lot of experience with,” said Dr. Hildrew. “What happened with COVID-19—we had the necessity, but we might not have had the infrastructure in place yet. This turned the whole healthcare model on end, because the digital software and storage infrastructure that were necessary to roll out such a rapid expansion simply weren’t in place yet.”

“The Telemedicine Committee is working to identify all current barriers and working to anticipate what future needs will be. Telemedicine is here to stay,” said Dr. Hildrew. And he’s happy about that.

“If there’s one blessing to come from COVID-19, it’s that the world has now seen that telemedicine can provide a robust and safe platform for healthcare delivery—but it does require a different type of infrastructure to use it right,” he said.

Dr. Hildrew will be joined by Erika A. Woodson, MD, Larry E. Simone, MD, and Maura A. Farrell, AAO-HNS Director of Advocacy, in the Panel Presentation to highlight what progress has been made in 2020 regarding telemedicine and to discuss the work that is still to be done.

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