OBJECTIVE: To study the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the utilization of pediatric cardiac care services and to determine the role of teleconsultation services in delivering healthcare in this subset of population .
METHODS: It was a retrospective, observational study . All children who attended pediatric cardiology outpatient/teleconsultation services or were admitted to pediatric cardiology ward between April 1, 2019 to July 31, 2019 and April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, were recruited in the study . Data for patients who underwent surgery or catheter intervention for congenital heart disease were also recorded and analyzed . Comparisons were drawn between the statistics during the two time-periods .
RESULTS: Physical outpatient services were discontinued and were replaced by teleconsultations from April 2020 . Inpatient admissions during COVID-19 pandemic (n = 66) decreased by two-thirds as compared to the admissions during similar period in 2019 (n = 189). Similarly, the percentage decrease during these 4 mo of pandemic were 84% for catheter interventions , 90% for total congenital heart disease (CHD) surgeries, and 40% for emergency CHD surgeries . The number of patients availing successful teleconsultation was 1079, which was only 15% of the total number of patients attending physical outpatient services (n = 7176) during the corresponding period in the year 2019 . During the pandemic, systematic teleconsultation and local evaluation and investigations aided in better management of patients with CHD.
CONCLUSIONS: The utilization of cardiovascular services for CHD has reduced significantly during COVID-19 pandemic, for both out- and inpatient care . Teleconsultation services have streamlined the follow-up care to some extent and have helped in noncontact triaging of these patients for further care.
Index: COVID-19, Congenital heart disease, Pediatric cardiology, Teleconsultation