Background: Teleophthalmology programs are expanding, but have not been adapted into many emergency departments (EDs) in the United States. Introduction: Determining the potential demand for teleophthalmology services in the United States. EDs could enable development of new strategies to improve access to eye care in resource-limited regions. Methods: Telephone surveys were administered to ED physicians and nurses in Florida. Perceptions of ophthalmologist availability, equipment availability, and perceived utility of teleophthalmology services were measured. Results: Responses were from 104 of 207 facilities (50.2%); 88/181 (48.6%) designated as nonrural hospitals (NRHs) and 16/26 (61.5%) as rural hospitals (RHs). NRHs reported a median of 1 ophthalmologist available on call compared with a median of 0 at RHs (p < 0.001). NRHs were more likely to have a slit lamp (98.9% NRH, 50.0% RH; p < 0.001) and tonometer (100% NRH, 75.0% RH; p < 0.001). On a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5, most (68/93; 73.1%) perceived the value of teleophthalmology for remote consults as a 4 or 5. The most common perceived benefit of teleophthalmology use was to provide second/expert opinion (26.5% of responses). The most commonly cited perceived disadvantage was the physical unavailability of an ophthalmologist for examination and follow-up care (35.5% of responses). Discussion: RHs have less access to ophthalmologists and ophthalmic equipment when managing eye-related complaints in the ED. At both RHs and NRHs, providers face limitations in managing eye complaints and perceived teleophthalmology as a potentially valuable tool for remote expert consultation. Conclusions: Results suggest teleophthalmology services may be used to improve access to expert ophthalmic care, particularly in rural communities.
- emergency medicine
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management