The COVID-19 pandemic reveals the potential of telehealth to improve care

May 12, 2020

Two new articles provide insights on the use of telehealth or virtual care in the age of COVID-19 and beyond, pointing to its value to not only prevent contagious diseases but also to provide access to effective and equitable care.

In a Nature Partner Journal's Digital Medicine perspective, Lee H. Schwamm, MD, Director of the Center for TeleHealth at Massachusetts General Hospital and Vice President of Virtual Care at Partners Healthcare, and his colleagues stress that virtual care, by collapsing the barriers of time and distance, is ideal for providing care that is patient-centered, lower cost, more convenient and with greater productivity than traditional methods for delivering care, especially during a pandemic.

The article describes the scope and scale of the virtual care innovation introduced at Partners Healthcare and provides guidance to other health care systems on implementing virtual care tools and addressing challenges to their use during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It will be important for health systems to reap the benefits of this digital innovation to redesign inpatient and ambulatory care delivery now and in the near future, as we transition from clinical surge to a recovery phase," said Dr. Schwamm.

In Lancet Digital Health, Dr. Schwamm and co-authors describe in greater depth two pivotal innovations in virtual care delivery for hospitalized patients: virtual rounds and a virtual intercom communication system.

Virtual rounds seek to redesign traditional medical rounds, where large numbers of health care workers are frequently huddled together around a computer screen or test result to discuss treatment options. With virtual rounds as a means of so-called medical distancing, one or two health care workers are physically present on a hospital ward, while all other multidisciplinary team members join remotely from home or other locations in the hospital.

The virtual intercom communication system allows clinicians to monitor and communicate with patients over video screens from anywhere in the hospital and present a human face to isolated patients whose only other personal contact is typically with providers who are fully gowned, masked and gloved.

"These approaches have allowed us to deliver exceptional care during a time of mass contagion, while preserving personal protective equipment in short supply, reducing exposure time of staff and engaging in compassionate and reassuring encounters over video sessions whenever care is required," said Dr. Schwamm.

Dr. Schwamm noted that the current health crisis may serve to transform outdated methods of health care delivery and reveal new ways to use virtual care to improve the health of all patients.
-end-


Massachusetts General Hospital

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.