Over the course of just weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated the pace at which health care organizations across the nation adopted and expanded virtual care.
To keep both their patients and employees safe, health care providers completely restructured their services, pivoting from in-person to remote patient visits at record speed. For these organizations, this shift has been transformational — they’ve adopted new technology, overhauled workflows, and redefined team member roles. At this point, organizations have proven virtual care can be an option for safety net providers and their patients; what comes next is ensuring that virtual care can be sustained and expanded upon. This will require redesigning initial workflows to ensure equitable access, reduce provider burnout, prepare patients to engage virtually, and advocate for policy and payment reform.
Through the Virtual Care Innovation Network, a community health collaboration founded by Kaiser Permanente, safety net organizations across nine states redesigned care so that virtual care models continue after the pandemic abates and beyond. We brought together leaders to solve complex challenges associated with the implementation, improvement, and sustainability of “virtual care,” also commonly known as “telehealth” or “telemedicine.” With our partners, this collaborative aimed to:
- Expand and strengthen access to high-quality virtual care to ensure all patients served in the safety net benefit from these services.
- Support organizations who are serving those individuals most impacted by COVID-19 to improve access to care and health outcomes.
- Advocate for more permanent policy changes to sustain virtual care into the future, thereby enhancing the health care safety net’s financial viability through continued reimbursement for virtual care.