COVID-19 and telehealth: crisis drives innovation and expands care
From patient demand to COVID-19 legislative reform, more accessible and
efficient healthcare has transitioned from being an added benefit to a
necessity. Now more than ever, virtual visits with a provider and remote
patient monitoring are essential – allowing patients to stay connected
to their provider while improving patient engagement and reducing healthcare costs.
Prior to COVID-19, our medical groups – consisting of over 10,000
providers across seven states – were in the early stages of implementing
telehealth services in some of our 973 clinics. But in just a few short
weeks in March, our telehealth team, in collaboration with our local service
area and medical group partners, took on the massive task of giving over
7,000 ambulatory providers the ability to safely conduct and correctly
bill for virtual visits with their patients during the COVID-19 crisis.
Just one month after go-live, we went from doing less than 1,000 telehealth
visits a week to over
12,000 telehealth visits a day for both primary and specialty care across our Physician Enterprise.
Rapid deployment of telehealth solutions was a critical step in ensuring
we could provide high-quality healthcare to our patients and community
in the world of social distancing and beyond. Our initial goal was to
maintain continuity of care for those who are sheltering at home so they
don’t expose themselves or others to COVID-19, while enabling our
providers to continue their clinical practice in a new way during this
outbreak. But now as shelter in place orders are being lifted and we begin
to resume face-to-face appointments and in-office procedures, we plan
to continue to care for patients both in-person and virtually –
enhancing our provider-patient relationships by meeting the patient where
it’s most convenient for them and where they feel most comfortable.
I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of our multi-disciplinary
team for turning the seemingly impossible into the possible. Going live
with telehealth across such a large and complex network of physicians,
with over 30,000 caregivers and 15 million patient visits a year, in such
a short amount of time, is an extraordinary achievement. Additionally,
our providers and caregivers have stepped up to the task of quickly embracing
- A psychologist shared that a patient with high anxiety was able to accomplish
more in therapy through telehealth; feeling safe and comfortable in their
home allowed them to work through things they hadn’t been able to
work on previously.
- A pediatrician helped a concerned mom who was scared to leave the house
do a belly exam on her baby. She sent the mom and baby to the children’s
ED, and the baby had its appendix out that night.
- A nurse practitioner helped a 16-week-pregnant patient find a fetal heart
rate, something she wasn’t able to do on her own with her at-home Doppler.
It’s been remarkable to see our providers adapt to new telehealth
modalities, while keeping focus on delivering compassionate care to patients.
While the COVID-19 crisis has put a strain on our communities and healthcare
systems, implementing telehealth services has given us the opportunity
to complement face-to-face visits and expand our delivery of care while
continuing our mission of serving all – especially those who are
poor and vulnerable.
You can learn more about our telehealth services