Telemedicine forum helps ophthalmologists stay connected amid COVID-19

April 9, 2020

In a moment of national peril, when the physician-patient relationship has been severed by COVID-19 pandemic precautions, telemedicine has never mattered more.

In a moment of national peril, when the physician-patient relationship has been severed by COVID-19 pandemic precautions, telemedicine has never mattered more.

Ophthalmologists are joining together and generating a communication network/feedback loop called “Eye Care Pandemic Response/Tele-VisionMD” to share best practices in telemedicine adaptation.

The formation of this network has been “motivated by love and concern for our patients, our support teams, our colleagues and our country,” according to its founders.

Among the founding co-chairs* are Eduardo Alfonso, MD, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; Julia Haller, MD, Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia; and Peter McDonnell, MD, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Co-founding directors include Dr. Alfonso; Michael Boland, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute; Warren (Chip) Fagadau, MD, clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas; Ranya Habash, MD, assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute; Dr. Haller; Dr. McDonnell; and Jonathan Myers, MD, chief of the Glaucoma Service, Wills Eye Hospital.

The network will serve “to access the combined resources of our cherished academic institutions, and to tap the latent collective creativity and clinical insights of practitioners in the field,” according to the group.

As an initial step in this direction, an online forum has been created for eyecare providers to both ask questions and share personal experiences with regard to COVID-19 and telemedicine.

To join the conversation, go to https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/eye-care-pandemic-response and request to join the group. If “pending approval” appears on the screen, access should be approved within 24 hours.

In addition, plans are in development for a more robust online platform (Tele-VisionMD.org) to facilitate interaction regarding telemedicine in eye care. This platform will remain non-profit and non-proprietary, freely available in order to maximize collaboration.

*Editor’s Note: It should be noted that institutions have not been identified as endorsers or sponsors. Rather, ophthalmologists are joining as individuals to bring collective intelligence to fellow colleagues.