Improving Access to Cardiovascular Care Through Telehealth: A Single-Center Experience

Okechukwu Mgbemena, Kyeesha Becoats, Ian Tfirn, Edin Sadic, Azeem Rathore, Steve Antoine, Gladys Velarde


Background: Historically, access to healthcare has been a serious shortcoming of our healthcare system. Approximately 14.5% of US adults lack readily available access to health care and this has been worsened by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. There are limited data on the use of telehealth in cardiology. We share our single-center experience in improving access to care via telehealth at the University of Florida, Jacksonville cardiology fellows clinic.

Methods: Demographic and social variables were collected 6 months before and 6 months after the initiation of telehealth services. The effect of telehealth was determined via Chi-square and multiple logistic regression while controlling for demographic covariates.

Results: We analyzed 3,316 cardiac clinic appointments over 1 year. Of these, 1,569 and 1,747 were before and after the start of telehealth, respectively. Fifteen percent (272 clinical encounters) out of the 1,747 clinic visits during the post-telehealth era were through telehealth, completed via audio or video consultation. Overall, there was a 7.2 % increase in attendance after the implementation of telehealth (P value < 0.001). Patients who attended their scheduled follow-up had significantly greater odds of being in the post-telehealth group while controlling for marital status and insurance type (odds ratio (OR): 1.31, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07 - 1.62). Patients who attended had higher odds of having City-Contract insurance - an institution-specific indigenous care plan (OR: 3.51, 95% CI: 1.79 - 6.87) compared to private insurance. Patients who attended also had higher odds of being previously married (OR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.05 - 1.70) or married/dating (OR: 1.39, 95% CI: 1.05 - 1.82) compared to patients who were single. Surprisingly, telehealth did not lead to an increase in the use of Mychart, our electronic patient portal (P value = 0.55).

Conclusions: Telehealth enhanced patients access to care by improving appointment show-rate in a cardiology fellows clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth as a resource adjunct to traditional care in cardiology fellows clinic should be further explored.

Cardiol Res. 2023;14(1):63-68


Telehealth; Cardiology; Telemedicine; Virtual care; Fellow-in-training; COVID-19

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Cardiology Research, bimonthly, ISSN 1923-2829 (print), 1923-2837 (online), published by Elmer Press Inc.                     
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