Telehealth's role in cardiology? Thoughts from 3 specialty leaders

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The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of telehealth across many healthcare specialties, including cardiology. However, there are some differing views about the extent of its use in the specialty. 

Here are quotes related to telehealth's use in cardiology from three cardiologists, taken from recent episodes of Becker's cardiology and heart surgery podcast

Jeffrey Kuvin, MD. Senior Vice President of Cardiology at Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.). We need to think about what we just went through in COVID-19 and take some lessons learned from the COVID-19 playbook as we pivot to the next year or two. One thing we did learn was really the importance of telehealth. I think you're going to see this continue to evolve in not only heart care, but also all of healthcare. We need to make sure that we, as healthcare providers, are more flexible in how we interact with patients. Instead of having our patients come to us, we need to meet them halfway. And seeing patients in a virtual environment, I think brings a unique perspective. You can often talk to family members. You can often see in the background what their environments are like and then change or think about how that has an influence on their healthcare. I'm not saying that telehealth is our only future, but we need to think about flexibility as we continue on this healthcare journey. And something that COVID-19 taught us was that even at a distance, we need to remain connected with our patients. 

Raman Mitra, MD, PhD. Director of Electrophysiology at Northwell Health's North Shore University Hospital (Manhasset, N.Y.). The No. 1 issue that I think is the biggest challenge in cardiology is the judicious use of technology. It's important that we don't underuse technology, as it has enhanced patient care, but we have to be careful not to overuse it. This includes areas such as telehealth, wearables, remote monitoring, cardiac imaging, some of the new percutaneous valve procedures, ventricular assist devices, as well as leadless pacemakers and complex ablation, which is an area that I specialize in. It's very easy to get enamored by technology, but it's a double-edged sword.

Subbarao Myla, MD. Director of the Cardiovascular Catheterization Laboratories at Hoag Memorial Hospital's Jeffrey M. Cantor Heart & Vascular Institute (Newport Beach, Calif.). Right now, I expect telehealth to expand, increase care, and perhaps democratize to a degree, healthcare [disparities.] But at the same time, I am concerned that we're setting up for failure. The current telehealth is essentially a glorified FaceTime. There is no sensor-based input of vital signs. Physical exam, frequency of visits, and the non-verbal communication, [are] vital when I see my patients in the office. 

Face-to-face [with telehealth] is missing, but by setting the expectations high I'm concerned the quality won't match that expectation. This can cause concern for abuse. There may be reduced payments to telehealth. It increases the risk of missing a vital diagnosis and potential malpractice risk in the near term future. 

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