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In The Lancet. Digital health

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive disruptions within health care, both directly as a result of the infectious disease outbreak, and indirectly because of public health measures to mitigate against transmission. This disruption has caused rapid dynamic fluctuations in demand, capacity, and even contextual aspects of health care. Therefore, the traditional face-to-face patient-physician care model has had to be re-examined in many countries, with digital technology and new models of care being rapidly deployed to meet the various challenges of the pandemic. This Viewpoint highlights new models in ophthalmology that have adapted to incorporate digital health solutions such as telehealth, artificial intelligence decision support for triaging and clinical care, and home monitoring. These models can be operationalised for different clinical applications based on the technology, clinical need, demand from patients, and manpower availability, ranging from out-of-hospital models including the hub-and-spoke pre-hospital model, to front-line models such as the inflow funnel model and monitoring models such as the so-called lighthouse model for provider-led monitoring. Lessons learnt from operationalising these models for ophthalmology in the context of COVID-19 are discussed, along with their relevance for other specialty domains.

Gunasekeran Dinesh V, Tham Yih-Chung, Ting Daniel S W, Tan Gavin S W, Wong Tien Y