At the start of 2020, Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) were conducting about 30 telehealth video visits per week; that number has since exploded to approximately 2,500 video visits per day across the system. In total, there were more than half a million (517,000) video visits systemwide as of Dec. 31, 2020, the majority performed by Yale Medicine providers.
The rapid deployment and growth of our telehealth programs was a remarkable success story in a difficult year. Working in partnership with ITS and YM Learning and Development, the integrated telehealth team quickly scaled up the program and trained providers on how to use telehealth, while callers reached out to help patients prepare for their video visits. As a result of this work, patients were able to continue seeing their providers throughout the pandemic.
“Telehealth became invaluable to us as an enterprise,” says YM Chief Strategy Officer Kimbirly Moriarty. “It allowed us to continue to deliver care to our patients in a safe and convenient way.” Conducting patient appointments by video also reduced the draw on personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduced potential patient and staff exposure, Moriarty notes. In addition, “there is a great deal of patient and provider satisfaction (with telehealth),” she says.
Yale’s successful deployment of telehealth during the pandemic, and the lessons learned, are chronicled in a recent article in ScienceDirect. The article was authored by Pamela Hoffman, MD, medical director for telehealth services for YM/YNHHS; Yollanda London, director, strategy and program development for YM; and Nikki DeLucia, director of ambulatory telehealth for YM/YNHHS.
Technological and operational improvements to the telehealth program continue. “Feedback from our patients and physicians has played a critical role in our refinement of the platform and our services,” says Lisa Stump, chief information officer for YSM and YNHHS. “In a survey of patients, nearly 65% reported that video visits offer a convenient and safe way to receive care from a doctor. That reinforces our efforts to offer these services and to make them easy for patients and physicians to use.”
Telehealth priorities for 2021 include further technology upgrades, along with increased use of remote patient monitoring tools for functions such as blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate. The goal is for Yale Medicine to have 20-30% of ambulatory visits conducted through telehealth, Moriarty says.
Another priority is to ensure continued insurance coverage for telehealth even after the pandemic ends, since the state’s emergency mandate for video visit coverage is temporary. The telehealth team has been working closely with Payor Relations on YM’s contracts with insurance carriers to ensure that payment continues once the public health emergency is over.
Yale Medicine grew its footprint in 2020 with a variety of new and expanded clinical facilities, including a new multispecialty practice in Guilford that opened in September. The Guilford practice, located at 800 Boston Post Road, provides world-class care in neurology, orthopaedics & rehabilitation, and plastic surgery. Additional specialties, including ENT and ophthalmology, are expected to join the Guilford location in 2021.
Earlier in 2020, the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) section of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences became the first YM clinical practice to relocate to the Yale West Campus. Its new home at 200 West Campus provides much-needed additional space, a state-of-the-art IVF lab, more advanced procedural capabilities, and features that are designed to maximize patient comfort and convenience.
In conjunction with YNHHS, YM continued ambulatory planning efforts through a joint Network Strategy Council (NSC) that includes YM Chairs, YM leadership, COOs from the delivery networks, and service line leaders to identify strategic geographies for expansion. To meet the goal of ambulatory expansion in central Connecticut, the group developed clinical program priorities and a preliminary business plan and is pursuing a potential site. The NSC is co-chaired by Kim Moriarty and Cynthia Sparer.
The YM Network Development & Strategy team is available to assist departments and sections with market data/trends, strategy and program development support, referring provider outreach, business planning, practice integrations, and business development opportunities. Please contact Yollanda London, email@example.com, to learn more.