Providence sees 20 to 30-fold jump in virtual visits, shuts down MyChart scheduling: 5 tech observations from the frontlines

Renton, Wash.-based Providence is on the frontlines of treating COVID-19 patients, and among the trends they are seeing is a huge surge in telehealth visits.

The state reported an increase from 457 cases to 1,376 cases this week, jumping 201 percent, according to Providence CMIO Brett Daniel, MD. As the virus spreads, people are turning to virtual visits to avoid travel to hospitals or clinics when possible.

"This week has seen a dramatic increase in moving normal clinic operations into virtual platforms," said Dr. Daniel in his LinkedIn blog post from March 19. "This transformation will change our health system forever moving forward in my opinion."

Here are five observations:

1. Dr. Daniel said virtual visits are up 20 to 30 fold since the outbreak began.

2. The correct billing and coding methods for virtual visits was a "hot topic" this past week. Many insurance companies and CMS have removed barriers to coverage for virtual visits, covering them regardless of the beneficiary's location, in response to the pandemic.

"The financial realities of this rapid shift to a new care model will be challenging," wrote Dr. Daniel.

3. Providence had to shut down MyChart scheduling across the system.

4. More than 100 patients enrolled in the TeleHome monitoring program that had potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases. These patients are stable and check in multiple times throughout the day with oximetry and a thermometer.

5. Providence worked with Twistle and Xealth for vitals integration.

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