Pennsylvania’s Geisinger health system faces several challenges common to the healthcare industry, such as for example improving usage of care, recruiting and retaining providers, and scaling technologies for rapid deployment across multiple campuses and a large number of medical specialties.
Serving predominantly rural communities, a lot of Geisinger’s patients experience barriers to obtaining the care they want. For instance, transportation to and from appointments is really a challenge patients may face, especially those surviving in remote areas which have long drives with their appointments.
Other patients, such as for example seniors and the ones with chronic conditions, could be homebound because of health complications. Telehealth alleviates the challenges these patients face in managing their health by creating usage of routine and specialty appointments from wherever is easiest for them.
“To handle recruiting and retention of providers, telehealth was designed to facilitate recruiting providers who live beyond central Pennsylvania and enable existing providers that are unable to physically happen to be clinics and hospitals because of injury or illness,” said David Fletcher, associate vice president of telehealth at Geisinger.
“To recruit clinicians outside the geographic region, it had been essential to ensure the entirety of the clinician’s visits could possibly be completed remotely and they were licensed in hawaii where the patient is situated during the visit,” he added.
To scale for rapid deployment of services, Geisinger committed to an individual telehealth platform for inpatient, outpatient and home-based services. By consolidating platforms, Geisinger could standardize most of the workflows and training processes necessary to rapidly deploy a fresh modality for seeing patients.
Geisinger have been using telehealth before the pandemic to generate better usage of look after patients. However, COVID-19 surges accelerated widespread telehealth adoption, as much couldn’t leave their homes or weren’t comfortable arriving at a doctor’s office. With this particular, medical system saw many hospitals experience strains within their capability to accommodate the quantity of patients needing care.
“In reaction to this shifting environment, Geisinger could leverage its single platform using its integrations using its electronic medical record system Teladoc and Epic, respectively to rapidly deploy telehealth to providers and sets of specialties who hadn’t previously engaged inside it,” Fletcher recalled.
“We have been in a position to consistently achieve satisfaction rates well above 80% across many demographic groups, including patients over 65 years.”
David Fletcher, Geisinger
“In just a matter of weeks, Geisinger went from 20 specialties to a lot more than 70 specialties and from about 200 providers to a lot more than 2,000 providers using telemedicine to see patients within their homes, neighborhood clinics or local hospitals,” he continued.
To boost recruitment of clinicians, Geisinger could expand its search both geographically also to outside sources. For example, the behavioral health department could contract having an outside agency which could see patients utilizing the Geisinger telehealth platform and EHR, with providers licensed in Pennsylvania, though definitely not physically located there.
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Because the pandemic, Geisinger saw a larger than 2,000% upsurge in virtual patient encounters. Between March 16, 2020, and March 20, 2022, Geisinger completed a lot more than 784,000 telehealth visits. At its peak, medical system averaged a lot more than 3,800 encounters each day.
“For behavioral health specifically, Geisinger has seen significant decreases in no-show and cancellation rates,” Fletcher reported. “Within a fortnight of closing clinics because of COVID, behavioral health found it had been in a position to complete more visits than it had ahead of COVID due to the improved no-show rate.
“Additionally, during this time period of massive change in healthcare, Geisinger has had the opportunity to keep high rates of patient satisfaction,” he continued. “We have been in a position to consistently achieve satisfaction rates well above 80% across many demographic groups, including patients over 65 years.”
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“It is important to think about what resources best support your communities’ usage of the care they want,” Fletcher advised. “If telehealth helps it be easier for patients to gain access to care, then it’s our responsibility as healthcare providers to create that open to them, whether through advocating for legislation to expand telehealth access beyond the pandemic or building community partnerships to supply the various tools and resources had a need to access telehealth services.
“For example, as telehealth became more accessible through the pandemic, Geisinger recognized that broadband access was a substantial challenge because of its rural communities,” he continued. “Together with a local online sites provider, we’ve been in a position to provide broadband usage of patients taking part in Geisinger in the home, a program created for patients with multiple comorbidities that are especially at an increased risk for readmissions to a healthcare facility or er visits.”
Additionally, it is important to think from the patient’s perspective and create a workflow that’s intuitive for your population, no matter their technical expertise, he said.
“For example, Geisinger doesn’t need a patient to download an app or sign right into a portal to begin with their visit,” Fletcher explained. “Because of the integrations between your telehealth platform and the EHR, a web link is automatically delivered to the patient’s phone or email at that time the visit is scheduled.
“Most of the positive survey responses Geisinger has received specifically mention how easy the individual found it to begin with their visit,” he concluded. “By putting patients at the biggest market of these efforts, the can effectively react to rapidly changing circumstances because of public health emergencies, shifting regulations, competitive pressures from non-traditional health providers, and changing customer expectations.”