5 COVID-19 telehealth challenges as Washington aims to flatten the curve

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The number of COVID-19 cases in Washington doubled last week from 3,207 to 6,585 as the state continues efforts to flatten its curve.

Brett Daniel, MD, CMIO of Swedish and Providence health systems, has tracked his experiences troubleshooting the IT challenges of caring for the influx of patients during the coronavirus in his blog titled "Washington COVID-19 CMIO Blog: Lessons to share."

While the health system has treated COVID-19 patients since January, it continues to see operational challenges as the need for telehealth grows. The challenges Dr. Daniel mentioned in his blog include:

1. The IT team needed to develop a workflow to help providers integrate telehealth into their practice. Dr. Danielsaid telephonic visits and virtual visits continued to grow exponentially in the past week.

2. There is a national shortage of headsets and webcams that pressures information systems specialists to supply the needed devices for patient care.

3. Renton, Wash.-based Providence and Seattle-based Swedish are among multiple health systems across the country seeking outside donations for personal devices for telehealth. Systems are seeking iPads and other communication devices to integrate into their workflows quickly.

4. The system reported a shortage of laptops available for ambulatory visits, and needed to figure out how to prioritize laptops they had while also meeting acute care patient needs with their equipment. Dr. Daniel and his team built a grid that summarizes the use cases for iPads and communication devices as well as approved solutions.

5. The IT team continued to work on the back end to make sure all codes entered for telehealth visits were mapped correctly downstream.

More articles on telehealth:
FCC approves $200M telehealth program: 6 things for hospitals to know
5 states expanding telehealth access
Led by COVID-19 surge, virtual visits will surpass 1B in 2020: report

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