Looking ahead in otolaryngology: 6 practitioners on the years ahead

Here's what six otolaryngoloists told Becker's ASC Review about their outlook on the field over the next one to two years:

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Nicole Aaronson, MD, pediatric otolaryngologist at Alfred I. duPont Hospital (Wilmington, Del.):

I'm hopeful that as we move ahead in learning how to deal with [COVID-19], my template will return to "normal" in the sense that I will be able to accommodate more patients. I am also hopeful that we can ease visitor restrictions for families. As a pediatric otolaryngologist, I think it's very hard on parents to have to choose which one of them comes to the hospital for their child's surgery while the other stays home. 

I also think the trend of trying to provide our families care closer to home will continue through use of in-home telehealth, medical-assisted telehealth performed in a local clinic setting and expansion of satellite locations. While in-home telehealth was used as widely as possible during the height of the pandemic, it is not effective for all patients (particularly in the pediatric population). However, we did learn a lot about what can and can't be done successfully in that setting, which will allow us to tailor visit types more effectively going forward.

Kenneth Altman, MD, chair of otolaryngology at Geisinger Health System (Danville, Pa.):

It's beautiful to be part of a healthcare system that appreciates these challenges and is already working to align health and well-being with our communities. We've defined best practice with a robust system of subspecialty service lines that span our full geographic area, and we're using technology to enhance communication between providers with patient exam findings. 

Teleconferencing is also used for provider/resident education, quality assurance and quality initiatives to bring us all together. And the efficiencies and emphasis on safety we've learned during the [COVID-19] crisis are now benefiting our daily mission. Over the next one to two years, we expect to further develop these programs and build a cohesive relationship with primary care, pushing education and disease awareness into the community.

Daniel Eichorn, DO, resident otolaryngologist at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine:

This won't be my own practice that changes, but the practices with which I train will change. Here's how I think they will change: 

- We will begin treating many conditions and diseases of the ears, nose, throat, head and neck that are much further along in their disease course since we will have been unable to intervene months earlier due to the pandemic. In some instances, this may limit which treatment options are available for a patient. 

- Head and neck cancers will be identified at much later stages, thus likely requiring more advanced and intense therapies and treatment courses which ultimately can be transferred to more psychosocial stress for a patient and their family. 

- Otolaryngology offices may become a vaccine distribution site, especially if that office already has functioning allergy and immunology services. 

Kiley Trott, MD, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, Conn.):

I anticipate growth of telemedicine and increased reliance on virtual appointments to screen patients for in person visits or for post-op checks when appropriate.

Stacey Ishman, MD, otolaryngologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital:

Telemedicine is here to stay and facilitates visits for those who are far from medical facilities or who have transportation issues. However, the technology issues make it problematic for those with limited access or poor internet.

I also think that we will continue to see people focus on wellness, and I hope that means that the recent focus on good sleep will continue. 

I sincerely hope that artificial intelligence will be harnessed to improve the documentation of visits, making it less manual, and improve diagnostics.

George Wanna, MD, professor of otolaryngology and neurosurgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York City):

My practice has significantly evolved through utilizing virtual patient consultations. Telemedicine has enabled me to quickly triage patients and resolve many issues, often without the need of an on-site visit. The telemedicine model has also facilitated prompt medical intervention for urgent cases when needed. 

As time passes, I can see many other areas that continue to be impacted using the virtual model for treatment consults and meetings. It has become easier, less labor intensive and quicker to obtain patient referrals. Further, using virtual technology, we are available for consultations with referring physicians or specialists in other states, and these consultations have been very helpful in time-sensitive cases. 

Our record-keeping processes continue to become more efficient and streamlined using electronic records for telehealth and on-site visits. By obtaining a patient's medical records, images, blood work and other test results in real time, we are able to quickly obtain and view a patient's complete medical history and test results. With telehealth visits, we are also available to support our patients with virtual follow-up visits. 

More articles on surgery centers:
What keeps otolaryngologists up at night: 6 perspectives
Viewpoint: An otolaryngologist's perspective on COVID-19
Top priorities for ASC leaders today and in 2021: 7 key trends


© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2021. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers