In the COVID-19 partner Q&A series, we will share knowledge and expertise from HRS partners across the country on how they are leveraging telehealth in response to COVID-19. Below, Henry Ford e-Home Care Manager, Mary Hagen, shares insight into how telehealth has expanded capacity, as well as her recommendations for the first video visit and making patients comfortable with the telehealth platform.

1. Has your patient population shifted since the COVID-19 outbreak?

We’re maintaining our current patient populations, ensuring chronic care patients continue to receive telehealth. We’ve also managed to expand our patient population. Patients who are diagnosed at the hospital and emergency departments across the Henry Ford Health System, but are able to recover from home, are being enrolled in the telehealth program upon discharge. The telehealth program allows patients to recover at home while enabling our clinical team to monitor for a potential decline in their health. 

2. How has telehealth relieved strain on the health system?

Enrolling stable, COVID-19 patients on telehealth has been hugely beneficial. The telehealth program is designed to free up beds at the hospital and move patients into a quarantined environment. Once quarantined, the telehealth team continues monitoring the patient’s recovery. Video visits have also been an immense help to our clinical teams. For home health clinicians, video visits provide more time for critical face-to-face visits and reduce windshield time traveling to and from patient homes. With the influx of patients, video visits have enabled us to free-up necessary staffing resources.

3. What aspects of the telehealth platform have been most valuable during the

Video visits play an essential role in our telehealth program from the minute a patient is enrolled until they are discharged from the telehealth program. To minimize exposure to both patients and our team, we’ve changed our installation process to keep installers out of patient homes. Our installers are instead delivering kits and then performing video visits to train patients on the platform and teach them how to take their vital signs. The system as a whole has been incredibly valuable. The ability to receive vital signs and survey responses allows us to prioritize patients based on need and provide essential services when necessary.

4. What are your best recommendations for virtual visits?

Start by having the telehealth nurses do a virtual visit with every patient at installation. This familiarizes the patient with the functionality and with their clinicians. Telehealth nurses should review how to answer the video call, how to position the camera, how to work the volume, etc. When their home health care nurse then wants to do a virtual visit, the patient will feel more confident that they can be successful.