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Rapid Adoption of Telemedicine in Rheumatology Care Highlights Training and Supervision Concerns Among Rheumatology Trainees

January 29, 2022

A team of researchers including UPMC’s Sebastian Sattui, MD, MS, recently published a study in ACR Open Rheumatology evaluating the impact of telemedicine use during the COVID-19 pandemic on rheumatology trainees. 

The COVID-19 pandemic required a rapid shift in health care delivery. For specialties like rheumatology where most care occurs in the outpatient setting, telemedicine became a large part of patient care. This shift has had implications not only for patient care, but also for rheumatology training. 
To evaluate the impact of telemedicine on trainees, adult and pediatric rheumatology trainees were invited to participate in a voluntary, anonymous, web-based survey. 302 trainees from 33 countries responded to the survey.

Telemedicine use increased from 13% to 82% during the pandemic, but only 39% of respondents received telemedicine-focused training. While 65% of surveyed trainees evaluated new patients using telemedicine, more were more comfortable using telemedicine for follow-up care (69%) than for new patients (25%). Trainees found that telemedicine negatively impacted supervision (50%) and the quality of clinical teaching (70%), with only 9% reporting a positive impact. 

Despite a dramatic increase in the use of telemedicine, a low proportion of trainees received telemedicine training and many lacked comfort in evaluating patients. This survey also revealed concerns surrounding inadequate supervision and clinical training. 

Based on these findings, the authors suggest that ensuring appropriate trainee supervision and teaching should be prioritized if the widespread use of telemedicine continues. 


Yeoh SA, Young K, Putman M, Sattui S, Conway R, Graef E, Kilian A, Konig M, Sparks J, Ugarte-Gil M, Upton L, Berenbaum F, Bhana S, Costello W, Hausmann J, Machado P, Robinson P, Sirotich E, Sufka P, Yazdany J, Liew J, Grainger R, Wallace Z, Jayatilleke A; Global Rheumatology Alliance. Rapid Adoption of Telemedicine in Rheumatology Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Training and Supervision Concerns Among Rheumatology Trainees. ACR Open Rheumatol. 2021 Nov 17:10.1002/acr2.11355. doi: 10.1002/acr2.11355. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34791821; PMCID: PMC8652624.