The EHR telehealth boom due to COVID-19 has been a gamechanger for clinicians and patients alike.
The spread of COVID-19 has given health organizations the ultimate stress test over the last two-plus months. Clinician EHR use has been instrumental in overcoming that challenge.
Between building field hospitals and wiring EHR systems at no cost to decrease hospital populations, or putting together surge capacity recommendations to help providers prepare for the spike in patients, the EHR community has broadened its impact to more than just EHR implementation during this time.
EHR vendors and organizations have stepped up to help curb the coronavirus by making telehealth a mainstream option, enhancing EHR data access by way of analytics, and collaborating to develop detailed COVID-19 dashboards.
INCREASING THE USE OF TELEHEALTH
Throughout the spread of the COVID-19, telehealth implementation has skyrocketed due to the overcrowding of hospitals and the immense need of social distancing to help limit the spread of the virus.
In a survey of over 2,000 individuals by Sykes Enterprises, roughly three-quarters of the respondents said they would utilize telehealth treatment if they experience coronavirus symptoms. Of the 20 percent who have tried telehealth, almost 60 percent have used it more than once, and almost 37 percent said they would try it again.
A 2019 survey by J.D. Power found that telehealth has a higher satisfaction rate than other healthcare options.
According to Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, Epic Systems has helped over 200 of its clients implement a telehealth system in less than a month.
“One such rapid response is telemedicine, which was a remote curiosity for most patients — and even some practitioners — until COVID-19 hit,” Still said. “Today, millions of consultations are taking place virtually, many of them on Epic platforms that were underused in the past.”
More than half of primary care visits are being done virtually, compared to just single-digit percentages in early March, he noted.
“Through telehealth, we’re seeing patients in their homes, meeting their families, seeing the art on their walls, learning about the things they care about most… I thought telehealth would remove the human aspect, but it actually enhanced it,” an anonymous Pennsylvania physician said to Still.