Cardiology patients used virtual care options more than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic, but medications were prescribed less frequently, and fewer diagnostic tests were ordered, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open.
The report, Patient Use and Clinical Practice Patterns of Remote Cardiology Clinic Visits in the Era of COVID-19, looked at the pandemic’s effect on all remote and in-person ambulatory cardiology visits at a large health system in Southern California.
The cross-sectional study found that of 176,781 ambulatory cardiology visits, patients using COVID-era remote visits were more likely to be Asian, Black, or Hispanic individuals, have private insurance, and have cardiovascular comorbidities. Compared with pre-COVID in-person visits, clinicians during COVID-era video and telephone visits had significantly lower odds of ordering any medication as well as most tests.
This means that remote cardiology clinic visits were used more often by certain traditionally underserved patient groups but were also associated with less frequent testing and prescribing.
“It remains unknown how this large-scale transition to remote care in the real world has changed clinical practice patterns in cardiology both in terms of the patients who are able to access care as well as the type and quality of care that is being delivered,” wrote Neal Yuan, MD, of the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues. “As there is currently a paucity of formal guidelines specifying best practices for remote cardiology visits, there may be unintended consequences from this new form of care that have yet to be identified.”
To read the full study at JAMA, click here.