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Tele-Ophthalmology Practices and Attitudes in the Philippines in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Survey

Authors Azarcon CP, Ranche FKT, Santiago DE

Received 7 December 2020

Accepted for publication 15 January 2021

Published 23 March 2021 Volume 2021:15 Pages 1239—1247


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Corrina P Azarcon,1 Felice Katrina T Ranche,1,2 Darby E Santiago1,2

1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines - Manila, Manila, Philippines; 2College of Medicine, University of the Philippines - Manila, Manila, Philippines

Correspondence: Corrina P Azarcon
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines - Manila, Sentro Oftalmologico Jose Rizal Building, Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila, 1000, Philippines
Email [email protected]

Background: The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (COVID-19) pandemic has limited patient access to out-patient care, prompting many clinicians to incorporate telemedicine in their practice. This study aims to explore the impact of the pandemic on the use of tele-ophthalmology in the Philippines.
Methodology: A 30-item online survey on practices and attitudes related to tele-ophthalmology was sent to ophthalmologists and ophthalmologists-in-training all over the Philippines.
Results: A total of 327 local ophthalmologists responded to the anonymous survey. Reported use of tele-ophthalmology increased from 53% to 90% (P < 0.001) at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media messaging was the most employed modality, utilized by 8 out of 10 tele-ophthalmology users. Respondents reported confidence in diagnosing gross conditions of the eye, and lack of confidence in diagnosing posterior pole conditions and orbital fractures. The majority (84%) believe that it can be adopted on a wider scale in the upcoming years.
Conclusion: The pandemic catalyzed a nationwide increase in the utilization of tele-ophthalmology. The majority of respondents expressed willingness to continue incorporating tele-ophthalmology in their practice after the pandemic.

Keywords: tele-ophthalmology, telemedicine, coronavirus, attitudes, survey

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