Telehealth Keeps Patients and Providers Connected during Pandemic

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patient and doctor use telehealth

A Surge in Telehealth Visits

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Emory Healthcare has experienced a surge in telehealth visits, with more than 215,000 visits conducted between patients and their health care providers from mid-March through July 2020. At the beginning of 2020, Emory Healthcare saw several patients via telehealth in only two or three specialties. Since mid-March, Emory has been conducting an average of 12,000 visits per week across 38 specialties.

“The speed and quality in establishing a robust telehealth practice from very few visits a week to around 12,000 per week has been an amazing transformation,” says Gregory Esper, MD, MBA, associate chief medical officer at Emory Healthcare and lead of Emory’s system-wide telehealth initiatives. “Our thanks go out to the many dedicated team members at Emory Healthcare who have helped us maintain important provider connections with our patients during these challenging times. We are pleased to be able to offer telehealth visits to our patients to meet their needs.”

Emory Connected Care Exceeds Expectations

The telehealth program at Emory Healthcare is called Emory Connected Care. This platform enables patients to consult with their health care providers from the comfort of their own home using telehealth technologies, such as a webcam or mobile device with a camera. As we began to see COVID-19 increase in cases, we also saw a necessary shift in how we performed safe and proper care for both patients and providers.

By the third week in March, Emory Connected Care had just surpassed over 3,500 telehealth visits. It was in April that we truly saw the power of virtual visits. Telehealth visits reached over 49,000 in April, totaling more than a 1,300 percent increase for online appointments in one month. COVID-19 hit its peak in April and in-person health care appointments became much more limited at that time. Despite the limitations, Emory Healthcare was able to continue offering telehealth services via Emory Connected Care. The average amount of telehealth visits starting in May and running through July was about 55,000 per month.

“These remarkable achievements, supported by tremendous behind-the-scenes efforts, have allowed our patients to continue seamless care with their health care providers during the COVID-19 crisis,” says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, CEO of Emory Healthcare. “While many of our specialty areas are now gradually and safely resuming in-person appointments, telehealth has been an essential offering to patients, and many continue to use this service for their care.”

Specialty areas with the highest volume of telehealth visits have been in primary care, orthopaedics & spine, and brain health (neurology, rehabilitation medicine, sleep center and psychiatry). About 30 percent of patients continue to use telehealth as their preferred choice of care at Emory.

The Future of Telehealth at Emory

It is no surprise that telehealth will likely be the new normal for conducting medical business for the near future. Emory Healthcare recognizes how important of a role telehealth continues to play in the future beyond COVID-19. We want to ensure that our patients continue having access to this health resource and feel confident and safe with these technological advances to meet each unique need.

Emory Connected Care telehealth services are convenient, secure and effective. For more information about our telehealth services, visit emoryhealthcare.org/connectedcare.