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Within just two weeks of the first COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Banyan Health Systems, based in Miami, Florida, transitioned healthcare services to telehealth.

Prior to the pandemic, prednisone and side effects the health system only used telehealth internally, providing practitioner consults between residential facilities and outpatient centers. After a short evaluation, Banyan chose to expand telehealth services across as many programs and services as possible using the DoxyMe telehealth platform. It chose the vendor because of ease of use for the patient and the ability for rapid deployment.

A full spectrum of care

Banyan transitioned to full-scale telehealth for both primary healthcare and behavioral healthcare, including providing virtual visits for case management and peer services. This allowed patients to continue to receive a full-spectrum continuum of care without missing a beat, said Jeffrey T. King, COO of Banyan Health Systems.

“The use of telehealth improved our outreach and engagement overall. However, we immediately identified a major issue with our low-income, underserved population,” King noted. “Although many of our patients have mobile devices, many of these are not smart devices, and many do not have video capabilities.”

In addition, many of the low-income patients do not have high-speed Internet or WiFi, or do not have the availability of unlimited data to be used on virtual healthcare visits.

“Although many of our patients have mobile devices, many of these are not smart devices, and many do not have video capabilities.”

Jeffrey T. King, Banyan Health Systems

“Even with the web-based, easy-access DoxyMe telehealth platform, patients with limited equipment or limited Internet service could not successfully connect to or maintain connection for virtual visits,” King explained. “So we partnered with Vivify Health to provide the Banyan Virtual Health Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring kit and launched our intensive telehealth unit.”

Removing barriers to telehealth

Banyan provided the telehealth solution, including the equipment and services, to individuals who have barriers to telehealth services. By providing the equipment, including a web-enabled tablet and biometric peripherals, the barriers to telehealth for these individuals were removed and the problems preventing the provision of telehealth services were alleviated.

“Our intensive telehealth unit was developed to overcome the challenges our patients were facing,” King said.

The telehealth and remote patient monitoring equipment is deployed to designated and identified individuals and families. It’s supported by an internal care-coordination and practitioner team. Healthcare pathways are assigned to the patient to assist the care team with ongoing assessment, monitoring and management of the patient’s health and wellness.

Banyan is still rolling out the program, so it is too early to identify any success metrics. Its target is for 2,000 patients to receive telehealth units. Of the patients in the program to date, Banyan already is seeing a much lower no-show rate in scheduled appointments.

$1M telemedicine grant

In mid-2020, the FCC’s telehealth funding program awarded Banyan $958,270 to serve 24 medically underserved areas in Miami-Dade and Broward counties by providing telehealth services to approximately 2,000 low-income and high-risk patients so that patients can receive medical care at home during the pandemic.

“The FCC funds were used to purchase the equipment for the telehealth and remote patient monitoring kit,” King explained. “We partnered with Vivify Health to create a kit that includes the web-enabled tablet, a weight scale, blood pressure monitor, thermometer and more than 200 evidence-based healthcare pathways. The FCC funds allowed us to purchase 500 units of kits to be deployed and cycled to 2,000 patients over 18 months.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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