M Health Fairview expands telemedicine pilot to local homeless shelter 

Minneapolis-based M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center will expand its telemedicine hub pilot to local homeless shelter for patients who need mental health and addiction therapy, Pioneer Press reports. 

M Health Fairview St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., began piloting the telemedicine hubs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The private private rooms, which physicians refer to as "phone booths," are equipped with computer screens and telehealth provider Amwell's virtual communications software, which allow patients to have private conferences with psychiatrists, drug counselors and other professionals at the hospital. 

“We realized when COVID hit that not all of our patients have the access to be able to use a smartphone or computer, or maybe they don’t have a safe place in their home to be able to talk privately," said Rich Levine, MD, a psychiatrist and family medicine provider who helped launch the effort. “That brought up the idea of a telemedicine hub, a location where they could go to a private room or have virtual visits with a provider to be able to get care." 

The new telemedicine hub at Catholic Charities' Opportunity Center will be the health system's third. The pilot has drawn a handful of patients, and M Health Fairview may expand to more hospital locations, according to the report. 

Originally intended to decrease patients' exposure to COVID-19, the telemedicine hubs will continue after the pandemic because their central location allows patients to cut travel time and miss fewer appointments, Dr. Levine said.

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