Optimizing Telehealth and E-Consult in Cardiovascular Care

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth use in cardiovascular care was limited. Challenges included payment model changes, privacy concerns, patient-clinician relationship impact, technology limitations, and potential disparities.Telehealth’s adaptations during the pandemic have the potential to enhance cardiovascular care and equity, but ongoing optimization is vital.

Clinician-to-clinician or clinician-to-facility platforms, include asynchronous (“store and forward”) data transmission, remote clinicians providing tele-intensive care unit or inpatient care at a distance (via video, electronic health record [EHR], monitor data), and electronic consultations (e-consults) from specialists to distant clinicians. 5 In the Massachusetts General Hospital’s cardiology e-consult pilot, cardiologists reviewed patient’s electronic data and images in the shared electronic medical record and provided detailed clinical recommendations without a cardiology office visit.

A total of 100% of clinicians endorsed the helpfulness of e-consults, and 77.8% believed the e-consult averted the need for a traditional in-person visit for their patients. Of the patients interviewed, 96.7% were “very satisfied” with the convenience of receiving a clinical recommendation without needing to visit with the cardiologist.

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