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Source / Disclosures


Lee SC, et al. Utilization and insurance coverage of tele-retinal Imaging during COVID-19 Pandemic. Presented at: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting; May 1-4, 2022; Denver.

Disclosures: Lee reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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DENVER – Despite higher payments during 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the use of teleretinal Imaging decreased during the initial Lockdown before returning to pre-Pandemic levels by the end of 2020, according to a study.

At the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting, Sophie C. Lee told Healio / OSN that the study explored how telehealth use shifted in retinal Imaging over the course of 2020.

Sophie C. Lee

“We were looking at utilization and insurance coverage specifically,” she said.

Lee and colleagues used data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse and identified remote retinal Imaging by looking at CPT codes for detection and monitoring, as well as for general fundus photography by non-eye care providers.

Teleretinal Imaging use decreased by 61% from February 2020 to April 2020. By December 2020, utilization returned to pre-Pandemic levels.

Payments increased from 47.4% in February 2020 to 56.7% in April 2020. By December 2020, payments decreased to 45.9%. Claims for detection and monitoring increased to 83.1% in April 2020 but fell to 53.5% in December 2020.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic underscored [the] need to expand telehealth services but did not appear to have any sustained Improvements in utilization or insurance coverage of teleophthalmology by remote Imaging in the US, ”the study authors wrote in the poster presentation.

Lee said their findings show that teleretinal imaging is not where they would like it to be yet.

“It isn’t easily utilized,” she said. “During the Pandemic, you would want more teleophthalmology and more remote Imaging to triage and catch patients who otherwise wouldn’t be going to a doctor. I think it’s an important area to increase access to health care, and it’s not being utilized fully yet. ”

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