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How telemedicine is changing care at Asante

From video visits with patients and families to consultations between providers at different hospitals, technology is allowing us to better serve our community.

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Even before the pandemic, Asante has worked to expand and grow our telehealth offering. During the pandemic, Asante has made telemedicine available directly to our patients throughout APP primary care, specialty care and urgent care clinics. Asante has completed tens of thousands of telemedicine visits over this past year, allowing patients to receive care where, how and when they want it.

Led by medical director Gary Marks, DO, and program director Katie Younkin, Asante’s telemedicine program has expanded into outpatient hospital-based and ancillary services including cardiopulmonary rehab, diabetes education, health promotion, pharmacy and soon lactation services and employee/occupational health.

Video visits have allowed patients to avoid busy waiting rooms (and the risk of exposure to illness), save time and provided another option for those with travel or mobility challenges. It has also allowed increased flexibility for providers.

Video visits are integrated into Epic. Providers can see patients from locations where they can log into Epic (from the clinic, home, etc.) and without having to use a separate app or system. With Epic integration, all communications are HIPAA-compliant. We have expanded our functionality to now allow screen-sharing and multiparty visits with a patient proxy, typically a family member.

Family members often take on many responsibilities for patients. They frequently must make sacrifices and face challenges when helping care for a loved one, including missing work to take their loved one to a medical appointment.

Multiparty MyChart video visits allow family and caregivers to more easily participate in the patient’s care remotely, saving time and increasing scheduling flexibility. Caregivers can participate in MyChart video visits while physically with the patient or from another remote location.

In the future, we will better integrate interpretive services, allow image captures and expand the ability of providers to invite others into the video visit.

MyChart allows patients to have a video visit without downloading a separate app. It also provides an integrated digital experience that includes appointment tracking, advance check-in, after-visit summary reports, lab results and more.

For those who do not have MyChart, we have implemented a “direct join” link that can be sent to a patient. Once the link is clicked, patients are brought directly into the video visit. Currently this link is emailed to patients. In the near future we will have the ability to text this link to the patient’s phone.

In addition to ambulatory and outpatient video visits, Asante has broadened our telemedicine offerings within the hospitals. Our telemedicine department has created a simple robot (iPad on wheels) that can be moved into patient rooms so that specialists can directly speak with the patient without having to don and doff PPE. This has allowed us to expand the reach of specialist providers. Our most successful application of the robot is to connect patients at ATRMC with behavioral health specialists based at ARRMC.

Asante will continue to consider inpatient applications for the simple robot concept, where providers are needed for consults and can in some cases engage with the patient without needing physical exams.

Patients overall have appreciated Asante’s telemedicine offerings and have rated the experience similar to an in-person visit (sometimes rating it even higher). The value of this technology is clear, both during and after the pandemic. Asante will continue to work to make telemedicine visits a positive and valuable service for both our providers and our community.

For any questions please contact Gary Marks, DO, medical director of Telemedicine, or Katie Younkin, director of Telemedicine.

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