April 16, 2020
Dallas – Medical City Healthcare has collaborated closely with clinicians to adapt and develop innovative telehealth solutions to treat patients quickly and safely with the goal of conserving personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 650 devices including laptops and iPads have been deployed across Medical City Healthcare’s 16 hospitals, expanding an already robust telehealth network to meet care demands.
“Telehealth helps us to flatten the curve by reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure,” says Medical City Healthcare Chief Information Officer Leah Miller. “Through a virtual visit, patients can make a face-to-face connection while helping to protect both our community and our clinicians.”
Below are highlights of the multifaceted telehealth program:
Virtual Care COVID-19 Screening: As the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in North Texas, Medical City Healthcare launched a virtual screening questionnaire based on CDC guidelines to help patients determine the most appropriate level of care for their health needs. This option enabled North Texans to be screened at home, helping curb the spread of illness in the community, reducing the demands on emergency departments, conserving limited tests and saving PPE. More than 14,000 community members have completed the screening since mid-March.
Emergency Consults: All Medical City Healthcare emergency department physicians and providers have access to conduct virtual patient visits, reducing risk of COVID-19 exposure to both staff and patients while conserving PPE. The virtual triage enables the physician to determine if admission or testing is required or if the patient can return home without further staff interaction.
“Telehealth triage saves two staff members per patient from going into the room,” says Medical City Plano Emergency Department Director Michael Meek, MD. “That conservatively translates into 60 donning and doffing sessions per day–saving 420 sets of PPE per week, per facility.”
Inpatient Virtual Rounding: The inpatient telehealth solution enables physicians to interact with admitted patients via technology, increasing the number of patients on which staff can round while reducing unnecessary exposure to both provider and patient. Virtual rounding also conserves PPE while enabling patients to have access to hospitalists and specialists quickly.
Physician Practices and Behavioral Health Telehealth
To better meet patients’ healthcare needs in a safe and effective way, behavioral health centers and some physician practices have launched telehealth visits to assure uninterrupted, compassionate care for patients’ physical and mental health wellness. Telehealth visits benefit patients who may be immunocompromised, those who cannot be around others, people who may be experiencing behavioral health issues such as anxiety or depression or those whose care qualifies for a virtual visit.
“Telehealth visits enable doctors to provide on-going care, while limiting exposure to the patient and staff,” says Nick Wadlington, vice president of Medical City Healthcare’s Physician Services Group. “Medical City Healthcare physician practices have completed more than 4,800 tele-visits since early March and as the stay home recommendations extend, that demand grows daily.”
Keeping Patients Connected
Medical City Healthcare greatly values the support that friends and loved ones provide during a patient’s hospital stay. Devices such as iPads are made available to patients who do not have a smartphone or tablet of their own to conduct video visits with friends and family members outside the hospital. Facilitating virtual family visits improves the patient’s emotional well-being while also helping to ensure the health and safety of patients, caregivers, colleagues and our communities. In a video interview posted on YouTube, ICU nurse Haley Dresner, RN, talks about providing this connection to families at Medical City Dallas.