BCBS of Minnesota recognizes Essentia Health for rapid telehealth expansion

Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health this month received Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota's Trailblazer Award for its efforts to improve virtual care access during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Essentia Health launched its virtual visit program March 18, a month ahead of schedule, to accommodate patients during the healthcare crisis. The health system trained more than 1,200 primary care providers and physicians representing at least 60 specialties in how to conduct virtual visits. 

"We knew we had to step in and fill a void that was quickly created by our patients not being able to come to see us," Essentia Health CEO David Herman, MD, said in a news release. "We literally went from zero virtual visits to about 3,000 virtual visits per day in less than three weeks." 

Essentia Health comprises 13 hospitals, 69 clinics and six long-term care facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. At the end of April, the health system had completed more than 40,000 virtual video visits and about 40,000 telephone visits. 

More articles on telehealth: 
How rural hospitals can navigate telehealth expansions, limit health disparities
Telemedicine visits on steady decline, report finds: 5 details  
Physician viewpoint: During time of rapid telemedicine transformation, we must 'anchor ourselves' in personal interactions

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