First few Article Sentences
As a response to COVID-19, telehealth was quickly spread at our pediatric tertiary academic medical center to offset the reduction of in-person visits due to social distancing regulations. Heart Institute (HI) telehealth volumes increased by 18,100% compared to pre-COVID-19 and Cincinnati Children’s (CCHMC) hospital-wide telehealth volumes increased by 4,714% compared to pre-COVID-19. Temporary policy changes for telehealth expansion issued by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), private payors, and state licensing agencies removed barriers and empowered healthcare providers to continue care safely through the pandemic. Scaling a project of this size at an expedited rate inherently came with challenges, most notably an accelerated training process for a new care model for most physicians and putting in place a telehealth infrastructure linked to Epic. Additionally, variability in private payor reimbursement guidelines and differing state licensure requirements across provider types proved to be difficult for determining which patients were suitable for a telehealth visit.
Collaboration across the institution was vital to ensure smooth execution. Leadership and staff in Patient Services, Hospital Administration, Center for Telehealth (TCT), Access Services, Payor Relations, and Medical Staff Services (MSS) worked together to fast-track necessary changes to allow wide-spread implementation of telehealth in patient homes. As a result, telehealth will continue to be an important care delivery model for CCHMC post-COVID 19.