The TeleTriageTeam, Offering Continuity of Personalized Care Through Telemedicine: Development and Evaluation
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic taught us how to rethink care delivery. It catalyzed creative solutions to amplify the potential of personnel and facilities. This paper presents and evaluates a promptly introduced triaging solution that evolved into a tool to tackle the ever-growing waiting lists at an academic ophthalmology department, the TeleTriageTeam (TTT). A team of undergraduate optometry students, tutor optometrists, and ophthalmologists collaborate to maintain continuity of eye care. In this ongoing project, we combine innovative interprofessional task allocation, teaching, and remote care delivery. Objective: In this paper, we described a novel approach, the TTT; reported its clinical effectiveness and impact on waiting lists; and discussed its transformation to a sustainable method for delivering remote eye care. Methods: Real-world clinical data of all patients assessed by the TTT between April 16, 2020, and December 31, 2021, are covered in this paper. Business data on waiting lists and patient portal access were collected from the capacity management team and IT department of our hospital. Interim analyses were performed at different time points during the project, and this study presents a synthesis of these analyses. Results: A total of 3658 cases were assessed by the TTT. For approximately half (1789/3658, 48.91%) of the assessed cases, an alternative to a conventional face-to-face consultation was found. The waiting lists that had built up during the first months of the pandemic diminished and have been stable since the end of 2020, even during periods of imposed lockdown restrictions and reduced capacity. Patient portal access decreased with age, and patients who were invited to perform a remote, web-based eye test at home were on average younger than patients who were not invited. Conclusions: Our promptly introduced approach to remotely review cases and prioritize urgency has been successful in maintaining continuity of care and education throughout the pandemic and has evolved into a telemedicine service that is of great interest for future purposes, especially in the routine follow-up of patients with chronic diseases. TTT appears to be a potentially preferred practice in other clinics and medical specialties. The paradox is that judicious clinical decision-making based on remotely collected data is possible, only if we as caregivers are willing to change our routines and cognitions regarding face-to-face care delivery.
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|Published in||JMIR Human Factors|
|Year and volume||28 10|
|Key words||COVID-19, eye care, mobile phone, ophthalmology, remote care, telehealth, telemedicine, triaging|
|Digital Object Identifier||10.2196/46145|