Trial By Fire: Impact of Rapid Expansion of Telemedicine in a Large Community Health System
Background: Our community-based health system transitioned to a largely telehealth-based approach under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited implementation of telehealth had begun in 2018, but provider and patient reluctance and inadequate reimbursement prevented widespread adoption at the time. The pandemic accelerated our system’s telehealth efforts.
Results: In February 2020, video technology was rarely utilized, with the organization averaging fewer than 10 video visits per month. In April 2020, our providers used it for over 30% of all visits in our system, accounting for over 30,000 visits. Before COVID-19, fewer than 20 of our providers had performed a direct-to-patient video visit. As of February 2021, we have had 1375 providers perform at least one visit, 522 providers have conducted 100 or more video visits and 48 RRH providers have become super-users, conducting more than 1000 video visits each. Patient satisfaction was very high and quality of care was preserved.
In a significantly compressed timeframe, providers and information technology (IT) staff were forced to move from theoretical discussions about telemedicine to the majority of appointments being done as virtual house calls. As short-term adjustments turned into long-term adaptations, we streamlined the number of video options for video-capable patients to decrease staff confusion and stress. If the patient lacked access to these options, a telephone visit would suffice. Despite the rapid change in healthcare delivery to our patients, high quality care with high levels of patient satisfaction was provided
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Stratton-Smith S, Nardi C, Snyder B. Trial By Fire: Impact of Rapid Expansion of Telemedicine in a Large Community Health System. Advances in Clinical Medical Research and Healthcare Delivery. 2021; 1(1). doi: 10.53785/2769-2779.1002.
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