Telehealth was on the 2020 roadmap for Grand Lake Health Systems (GLHS) in St. Mary’s, Ohio. The health system had been planning to explore the clinical and financial aspects of telemedicine, then deploy the technology where it made sense.
The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the health system’s time line exponentially.
As the pandemic was starting to affect the United States, Ohio worked to be proactive. GLHS immediately began looking for a good alternative to patients physically entering a healthcare facility for treatment. For patients who did not need a hands-on physical exam, GLHS wanted a way to continue to treat them while promoting physical distancing.
The FollowMyHealth Telehealth technology from Allscripts provided exactly what the health system was looking for, said Lori Miller, Chief of Information Services at Grand Lake Health System.
“Rather than cancelling non-urgent visits, our providers were asking patients if they would be willing to participate in a video visit from their home.”
Lori Miller, Grand Lake Health System
“This technology provided a way for our providers to perform telehealth with our patients, allowing for us to care for our patients remotely, when it made sense to do so,” she explained. “As we explored the technology, it was also important to us that it was easy to use for both our patients and our providers. In addition, because of the urgency of our need to roll this out quickly, we needed a solution that had a shortened implementation period.”
There are many telemedicine vendors on the health IT market today. For a continually updated list of companies with telehealth offerings, see our roundup here.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
The FollowMyHealth Telehealth system met the needs of GLHS. Allscripts understood the immediate need that healthcare facilities had because of COVID-19, Miller said. The vendor created a shortened implementation for the telehealth system. In addition, the system was extremely easy to use for both patients and providers, she added.
“FollowMyHealth is the patient portal our GLHS patients have been using for years,” Miller continued. “So, this is just an extension of existing technology for our health system. Any patient that has been seen in our health system – hospital or physician practices – via Allscripts Sunrise has been given the opportunity to join the patient portal over the past five years. FollowMyHealth is an extension of Allscripts Sunrise, and the patient data is integrated.”
GLHS’s EHR analysts worked with the Allscripts FollowMyHealth team on the configuration and implementation of telehealth. From beginning to end, this took only two days. This was a very simple and straightforward process, Miller said.
“We rolled out this technology in our ambulatory physician practices in a matter of days,” she said. “Rather than cancelling non-urgent visits, our providers were asking patients if they would be willing to participate in a video visit from their home. We have multiple providers in multiple practices using this technology. Patients are pleased with this alternative and have been very receptive to this within a very short period of time.”
Now GLHS is in the process of rolling this telemedicine technology out to several of its hospital outpatient services, such as pain clinic and physical therapy.
GLHS has been monitoring the number of video visits, the age group of patient participants and increased patient portal access.
“We look at metrics daily to ensure this technology is being accepted,” Miller said. “We have watched the number of patient video visits increase daily as well as the number of participating providers increase daily. In a matter of two weeks, we have more than 200 video visits that have already taken place, and more than 100 scheduled for the near future.”
The health system also tracks the age groups that are using this technology. At first, the health system thought it would see younger generations use telehealth the most. However, what it is seeing is that its age 50+ patients are the heaviest users.
“In addition, we have seen more than a 4% increase in the number of patients accessing the patient portal,” Miller noted. “This is exciting, because there are so many benefits to patients accessing their information on the portal, even beyond the telehealth aspect.”
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Don’t be afraid to dive in,” Miller advised her peers. “GLHS had this on our roadmap to explore this year. This pandemic forced us to fast-track this implementation. Honestly, this has been one positive for us during an unwelcome time in history.
“We are very pleased with the telehealth technology and the adoption we have seen from our providers and patients. It really is a great service to offer for those patients who are not mobile, or shouldn’t be mobile, during a pandemic.”
Email the writer: [email protected]
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