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Published Online: 24 June 2010

The Impact of Telehealth on Wait Time for ENT Specialty Care

Publication: Telemedicine and e-Health
Volume 16, Issue Number 5


Audiology in rural Alaska has changed dramatically in the past 6 years by integrating store and forward telemedicine into routine practice. The Audiology Department at the Norton Sound Health Corporation in rural Nome Alaska has used store-and-forward telemedicine since 2002. Between 2002 and 2007, over 3,000 direct audiology consultations with the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Department at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage were completed. This study is a 16-year retrospective analysis of ENT specialty clinic wait times on all new patient referrals made by the Norton Sound Health Corporation providers before (1992–2001) and after the initiation of telemedicine (2002–2007). Prior to use of telemedicine by audiology and ENT, 47% of new patient referrals would wait 5 months or longer to obtain an in-person ENT appointment; this dropped to 8% of all patients in the first 3 years with telemedicine and then less than 3% of all patients in next 3 years using telemedicine. The average wait time during the first 3 years using telemedicine was 2.9 months, a 31% drop compared with the average wait time of 4.2 months for the preceding years without telemedicine. The wait time then dropped to an average of 2.1 months during the next 3 years of telemedicine, a further drop of 28% compared with the first 3 years of telemedicine usage.

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Published In

cover image Telemedicine and e-Health
Telemedicine and e-Health
Volume 16Issue Number 5June 2010
Pages: 551 - 556
PubMed: 20575722


Published online: 24 June 2010
Published in print: June 2010
Accepted: 6 November 2009
Revision received: 6 November 2009
Received: 9 October 2009


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Philip J. Hofstetter, Au.D.
Audiology Department, Norton Sound Health Corporation, Nome, Alaska.
John Kokesh, M.D.
Department of Otolarnygology, Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage, Alaska.
A. Stewart Ferguson, Ph.D.
AFHCAN Telehealth Program, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, Alaska.
Linda J. Hood, Ph.D.
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.


Address correspondence to:A. Stewart Ferguson, Ph.D.AFHCAN Telehealth ProgramAlaska Native Tribal Health Consortium4000 Ambassador Drive, Rm. 332Anchorage, AK 99508E-mail: [email protected]

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