Case Study
The better the question The better the answer The better the world works
Case Study

How telehealth is helping address the challenges of COVID-19

Digital innovation is helping a leading US healthcare network cope with the challenges of social distancing. 

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The better the question

How do you maintain hands-on care at arm’s length?

A leading American health system knew it needed to transform its operational model in order to effectively respond to changes in patient needs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Researcher testing with novel coronavirus diagnostics kit

US healthcare providers are experiencing a surge in emergency patient cases as a result of COVID-19. This is straining resources as everyone races against time to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

When the COVID-19 outbreak struck, a leading American health system had already engaged Ernst & Young LLP on a significant transformation project. The team instantly shifted its focus towards helping the client to manage patient care by implementing systems that would enable their network to meet the needs of communities experiencing this novel health crisis. 

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The better the answer

We introduced telehealth to identify patients needing urgent attention

Digital innovation offered a smart way to manage a deluge of anxious patients.

What’s the best way to identify at-risk patients?

With several hundred points of care across a large geography, comprising of hospitals, care centers, physician offices and health facilities, we worked with the client to quickly create a digital solution that enabled patients to virtually access care.

Responding to patients showing COVID-19 symptoms was of the upmost importance. The network was being flooded with daily phone calls from patients who were trying to self-assess and access care for their symptoms.

Ernst & Young LLP leveraged a partner technology platform to provide telehealth options and build a “symptom assessment” chatbot which asks patients a series of questions about their symptoms. Based upon their answers, the bot would recommend whether the person should stay at home or connect via telephone with a member of the client’s clinical team for additional screening.

This service helped manage phone line volume and provided concerned patients with timely and personalized support. At this time, over 5,000 patients have taken the symptom assessment.

How can providers continue to care for non-COVID-19 patients?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines recommended that healthcare facilities delay all non-emergency in-person appointments and elective surgeries. For example, routine check-ups for elderly patients and cancer patients. As a result, EYs client needed to develop and disseminate digital technologies to provide care for existing patients whose treatment was put at risk by this crisis.

EY supported the health system in quickly providing a telehealth structure that could accommodate their network of nearly 2,000 providers, allowing existing patients to maintain their normal plan of care. We operationalized telehealth platforms across a network of hospitals, care centers, physician offices and health facilities. We led training sessions to educate providers on how to virtually meet with patients via video visits and how to address issues with patient insurance claims.

These efforts helped enable effective and efficient ongoing care for existing patients even as the scale of the COVID-19 crisis increased. Over 50,000 virtual visits have been completed in the first month in operation.

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The better the world works

Digital innovation that keeps healthcare running and patients safe

Avoiding unnecessary physical interactions helps patients and healthcare workers avoid infection.

Reshaping the future of healthcare through digital innovation

Newly recommended telehealth solutions helped this healthcare system to introduce new ways of working that limited unnecessary exposure and prioritized the safety of patients and healthcare workers.

By helping EY clients to digitize care delivery platforms, EY teams are shaping the future of the healthcare system as industry reimagines short- and long-term support of communities in this new era.

Blair Bellamy, Senior Manager, Ernst & Young LLP contributed to developing this case study.

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