The pandemic has turned the “regular” practice of medicine upside down. However, patients who don’t have COVID-19 still need to be seen and still expect the usual high-quality care. The rapid expansion of telehealth medicine across our network allows caregivers to provide clinical excellence at more than 2,000 sites of care, says Christopher Northam, vice president of Telehealth Services. The system includes an app-based program to screen for COVID-19 symptoms through a remote monitoring partner, Vivify Health.
HCA Healthcare teams scaled this technology across more than 180 hospitals in less than seven days and (as this publication was going to press) had monitored more than 20,000 patients and colleagues. Those teams also added more than 3,000 telehealth endpoints so hospital clinicians can round on patients and finish consultations without entering patients’ rooms, preserving critical PPE.
HCA Healthcare teams also enabled telehealth capabilities for more than 6,000 physicians to provide continuity of care for primary and specialty care practices. Those physicians scaled from an average of 50 telehealth visits daily in January and February to more than 10,000 daily in April.
“Telehealth allows a patient to get much-needed care while staying safely at home,” says Gwen McCoy, assistant vice president of Telehealth Operations. “For those with a chronic illness, seeing his or her physician during this pandemic gives patients a welcomed virtual ‛house call.’”
Dr. Jeffrey S. Guy, MD, MS, MMHC, vice president of Emergency, Trauma and Critical Care Services, describes telehealth as “not a technology but a program of care,” emphasizing patient safety. “Our telehealth COVID-19 monitoring program uses a technology to connect patients and colleagues to clinicians who monitor their condition daily and, when needed, navigates them to a site of care. We’re able to stay connected to our medically fragile patients during a time when they feel vulnerable and anxious. Telehealth helps to prevent an ‛avoidable surge.’”