Insourcing and scaling a telemedicine solution in under 2 weeks: Lessons for the digital transformation of health care.Healthc (Amst). 2021 Jul 19; 9(3):100568.H
The Covid-19 pandemic required rapid scale of telemedicine as well as other digital workflows to maintain access to care while reducing infection risk. Both patients and clinicians who hadn't used telemedicine before were suddenly faced with a multi-step setup process to log into a virtual meeting. Unlike in-person examination rooms, locking a virtual meeting room was more error-prone and posed a risk of multiple patients joining the same online session. There was administrative burden on the practice staff who were generating and manually sending links to patients, and educating patients on device set up was time-consuming and unsustainable. A solution had to be deployed rapidly system-wide, without the usual roll out across months. Our answer was to design and implement a novel EHR-integrated web application called the Switchboard, in just two weeks. The Switchboard leverages a commercial, cloud-based video meeting platform and facilitates an end-to-end virtual care encounter workflow, from pre-visit reminders to post-visit SMS text message-based measurement of patient experience, with tools to extend contact-less workflows to in-person appointments. Over the first 11 months of the pandemic, the in-house platform has been adopted across 6 hospitals and >200 practices, scaled to 8,800 clinicians who at their peak conducted an average of 30,000 telemedicine appointments/week, and enabled over 10,000-20,000 text messages/day to be exchanged through the platform. Furthermore, it enabled our organization to convert from an average of 75% of telehealth visits being conducted via telephone to 75% conducted via video within weeks.