Atlanta-based Grady Health System has historically offered some telemedicine services to the community. But when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March, the system’s telehealth strategy took a sharp turn.
“We quickly realized we needed to adopt an enterprise-class, scalable, secure solution that would meet the care delivery needs of our patients and providers while continuing to provide the quality of care we were accustomed to,” said W. Glenn Hilburn, RN, vice president of information technology at Grady Health System.
Tight Epic EHR integration imperative
While the goal was to find a telehealth solution that Grady Health could quickly implement, Hilburn added, the imperative was ensuring the health system deployed technology tightly integrated with its electronic health record that provided the patient with a pleasant, meaningful experience.
Grady Health decided on ExtendedCare and Vivify Health as the health IT vendors it required to continue delivering care in alignment with its quickly evolving needs.
“ExtendedCare offered Grady a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based platform that allowed us to rapidly scale video visits at a pace we were comfortable with,” Hilburn explained. “The value-add of the technology was its proven record of integrating with our EHR vendor, Epic, so that the new patient care workflows were adapted within the existing clinician workflows of our electronic record.”
“The value-add of the technology was its proven record of integrating with our EHR vendor, Epic, so that the new patient care workflows were adapted within the existing clinician workflows of our electronic record.”
W. Glenn Hilburn, RN, Grady Health System
The tight integration also allows patients to continue engaging with care teams through the patient portal they historically have used for reviewing their records and interacting with the care team electronically.
Healthy at home with remote patient monitoring
Vivify Health supported Grady’s need to keep patients healthy at home through the pandemic via remote patient monitoring, Hilburn said.
“Patient video visits have been adopted to provide both primary and specialty outpatient care,” he said. “While our physicians and mid-level providers conduct virtual office visits with these tools, we also are using the technology to provide rehabilitation and behavioral health services.”
Grady Health remote patient monitoring has been used to support social distancing while providing in-home COVID-19 screening through virtual assessments pushed to patients’ mobile devices. As part of the assessment, a patient answers a series of questions and are then provided with the appropriate education and guided toward next steps.
“For our patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or chronic conditions, Grady uses remote patient monitoring tools to monitor patients in the comfort of their homes,” Hilburn noted. “These tools allow Grady clinicians to assess patient data like oxygen saturation, temperature, blood pressure and weight, and follow up with patients as necessary.”
Big no-show rate reduction
For the first three quarters of 2020, Grady Health has conducted 104,907 telehealth visits (telephonic and video) and registered a 40% reduction in its patient no-show rate when compared with face-to-face visits.
Earlier this year, Grady Health System was awarded $727,747 by an FCC telehealth program to implement telehealth video visits, virtual check-ins, remote patient monitoring and e-visits to patients’ hospital rooms, enabling it to continue to provide high-quality patient care, keep patients safe in their homes, and reduce the use of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Grady’s FCC award funds have been used to support our ability to rapidly scale the solution across the enterprise,” Hilburn explained. “This has been achieved through licensing additional virtual care rooms, securing services for integrating the telemedicine platform with the EHR, and adding telemedicine endpoints such as monitors, peripherals and mobile carts.”
FCC funds also have been used, he concluded, to purchase remote patient monitoring kits that are deployed to patients so they can be continually assessed and treated remotely.