MedStar Health reduces certain ED visit lengths by nearly 63% via telehealth

COVID-19 patients' length of stay in an ED was reduced by 62.5 percent when a telehealth treatment option was implemented at MedStar Health in Columbia, Md., according to an Oct. 26 news release.

Researchers examined the impact that the system's new telehealth-enabled Evaluate-Treat-Disposition workflow in the ED had on visit length of stay and personal protective equipment preservation. Their findings were published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine.

With the telehealth workflow, an in-person ED triage nursing staff presented low-risk patients with suspected COVID-19 infection to a remote provider to be evaluated, considered for testing and then possibly discharged. Three weeks after rolling out the new workflow, a chart review showed that 153 of 302 patients were evaluated and discharged by a provider via telehealth.

The researchers also found that ED length of stay was 62.5 percent shorter for patients seen via the telehealth workflow compared to patients of equal severity seen during the same time period. The health system also saved 413 sets of PPE through the initiative.

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