The Emergency Department (ED) Diversion and Triage Program provides health system and hospital clients with telehealth and remote patient monitoring support as they determine how to effectively deploy the technology to divert patients from their crowded emergency departments.
The ED Diversion and Triage Program—led by Jenna Kowalski, MBA, BSN, RN, ACHM, Director of Clinical Services, and supported by the larger HRS Clinical Services and Reimbursement team—provides partners with a blueprint for how to strategically apply telehealth to divert patients from the ED. The program helps the healthcare organization determine which patients should be admitted to the ED, and which can recover or be monitored safely at home. It breaks patients into four priority levels—1 being the highest acuity and 4 being the lowest acuity, and supplies equipment and telehealth workflow recommendations for each patient priority level.
Kowalski joined HRS from a large health system in the Northeast that leveraged telehealth to respond to COVID-19 when the virus first surged in March 2020. Using her experience as a telehealth and nursing leader on the front lines during the pandemic, Kowalski developed the COVID-19 ED Diversion and Triage Program. Kowalski understands that health systems know telehealth can support them, but notes that many do not know how, or have the workflows in place to effectively get a telehealth program off the ground.
“Every patient presenting with COVID-19 symptoms does not need to be admitted to the emergency department. It’s essential that health systems have programs in place to divert less acute COVID-19 patients from their ED. By doing so, organizations leave room to admit the sickest, highest-risk patients to the hospital. By leveraging HRS technology in the process, health systems can divert care appropriately and hopefully never have to close their ICU due to capacity constraints.
“Our goal with this program is to help providers understand the many creative ways they can monitor patients, how to prioritize which patients should be admitted, and which can go home with the support of telehealth. As health systems continue to combat the virus, our team is here to support new or pivoting telehealth programs.”
- Jenna Kowalski, Director of Clinical Services, HRS
Today, over 100 health systems and hospitals are using HRS telehealth and RPM as a key component in their COVID-19 response. Common applications include Home Health COVID-19 at Home programs, Hospital at Home programs, COVID-19 screening and prevention programs, and long-term monitoring for COVID-19 “long haulers.” HRS has seen that the majority of clients are deploying either PatientConnect Complete, the company’s full telehealth kit which includes a tablet and bluetooth peripherals, or PatientConnect Mobile, the company’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) application.
During the COVID pandemic, Catholic Health’s McAuley Seton Home Care partnered with HRS to implement an effective and efficient clinical protocol to manage COVID patients in the home setting using remote patient monitoring (RPM).
“RPM enabled our clinicians to conduct virtual visits to continue providing high quality patient care while reducing exposure to the virus. During the pandemic, it was imperative that our hospitals appropriately managed patient throughput in an effort to open high demand hospital beds and reduce ER overflow; RPM allowed us to improve system-wide capacity management. McAuley Seton’s use of virtual visits was an innovative approach to addressing the challenges presented by COVID, while ensuring patient care collaboration across the continuum.”
- Kimberly Peters, Vice President of Home Care Operations at Catholic Health Home Care