Innovation at scale: Using virtual technology to reach patients and clinicians

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Innovating for the future | Telehealth

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Providence family of organizations has offered care through 3 million virtual encounters, including patient visits and provider-to-provider consults. Prior to COVID-19, Providence had been laying the groundwork for telehealth and virtual care expansion as technology advanced. Those innovations, along with regulatory flexibility put in place by Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, positioned our organization to effectively take on the challenge of a global pandemic that few would have predicted. As pandemic waves rose and fell, patient interest in receiving virtual care continued to be strong, and Providence responded with investments in existing and new telehealth programs.

Providence meets telehealth demand while building for the future

During 2021, Providence telehealth operated across eight states, enabling more than 20,000 clinicians to provide virtual care, driving more than 1.43 million encounters. Specialty services are in high demand, with eight now offered (including several in the piloting phase at one or more campuses), as well as many more projects supported and enabled by our regional innovation teams. We’re excited about Providence Hospital at Home and telePalliative care, in addition to the possibilities for medical education and knowledge sharing around the world. While developing these and other solutions, our telehealth experts are building for the future.

Providence Hospital at Home

Throughout the pandemic, Providence has used technology to help as many patients as possible heal at home close to loved ones. The highly successful Providence COVID Home Monitoring Program laid a strong foundation for delivering virtual care in the community, to date treating more than 28,000 patients in their residences with our same high-quality care.

Harnessing national momentum and building on our experience with home monitoring, Providence Hospital at Home was launched in July 2021 to enroll eligible patients and make complex, hospital-level care a reality outside the walls of our facilities. The first Providence program is now established in the Olympia, Wash. area, where a “team of teams” serves patients with a virtual medical command center, daily in-home clinician visits, and access to the acute services they need. 

Providence Hospital at Home provides patients the opportunity to receive acute hospital-level care in their own homes.

“There is a misconception that it’s just a matter of providing the technology. Our team does so much more than that, including clinical development, legal review, and working with medical regulators and government offices to make sure our virtual care meets the highest standards,” says Sherene Schlegel, executive director of Telehealth Clinical Operations

The program enjoys high patient and clinician satisfaction, and its services and enrollment continue to expand. As the telehealth team looks to the future, Andrea Fleming, executive director, Telehealth Enterprise Services shares that, “Providence Hospital at Home is just the beginning. We want to get further upstream to prevent the need for acute care wherever possible, and also expand our ability to treat patients who need post-acute recovery care.”

Reaching rural areas with telePalliative care

In April 2021, the Palliative Practice Group under the leadership of the Providence Institute for Human Caring launched a telePalliative care demonstration project in rural Stevens County, Wash., with two Providence critical access hospitals in Colville and Chewelah. Providence Telehealth teams supported the launch with clinical and operational expertise. The program creates a complete interdisciplinary team by connecting local providers, chaplains and RNs providing palliative care with a centralized, specialized palliative care provider and social worker.

During the past 11 months, more than 70 telePalliative care consultations provided patients and their loved ones with equitable, timely care in optimal settings. Local providers at these two hospitals are seeing enhanced patient care, reduction in unwanted treatments, and fewer transfers to larger hospitals far from home. The entire team is proud that they are part of the whole person care continuum, enriching each patient’s experience and adding depth to caregiver best practices.

Amber Moody, a palliative care nurse, and Kelly Corcoran, chief mission officer at Providence Mount Carmel Hospital, are part of a telePalliative care team in rural Stevens County, northeastern Washington. They bring specialty palliative care to patients who might otherwise have to travel 80 miles one way to receive the same treatment.

Learn more about palliative care.

Innovations by our family of organizations in the delivery of care means that we can meet our patients where they are most comfortable and help them get the care they need. Using technology for the greater good also means we’re able to walk alongside our community partners in new ways. Whether it’s in our local neighborhoods or in another country, we’re using the latest technology, our scale and the compassionate expertise of our caregivers to create health for a better world in each of the communities we serve.

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