Jagmeet Singh, MD
Chief of Nephrology and physician lead for telemedicine, Guthrie
Guthrie, an integrated health care system, operates five hospitals, 32 regional clinics, and several skilled nursing facilities in New York and Pennsylvania. When the first wave of COVID-19 hit the region, the non-profit was faced with a daunting task. How would they shift hundreds of providers into a new, telehealth setting in the middle of a pandemic?
With up to 1.3 million outpatient visits per year, Guthrie was committed to finding a solution that not only protected patients, providers, and staff, but also maintained quality of care.
In the past, Guthrie had struggled with finding a telehealth solution that met its needs. Some products only allowed providers to talk with and see patients through video. There was no physical exam feature. Others included a physical exam done by a nurse at a clinic while the provider joined remotely. But the equipment was not mobile, user friendly, or efficient. And providers were forced to rely on information relayed by the nurse instead of listening to vital sounds themselves.
Guthrie was looking for a “plug and play” solution that could fit right into its integrated health care system with minimal stress, setup, and training. Eko’s CORE digital stethoscope and Eko Telehealth were the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Eko stethoscopes allowed remote providers to listen to vital sounds themselves. Clinicians were impressed by the mobility, sound quality, efficiency and ease of use. The digital stethoscope and live streaming technology served to fill the gap for providers and patients who didn’t feel like they were getting a full visit without a physical exam.
Providers can now better catch red flags like atrial fibrillation that otherwise could have gone undetected, or fluid in the lungs that can signal problems for patients with kidney disease or heart failure. In addition to confidence and convenience, Eko aided Guthrie in its new goal of reducing COVID-19 exposure to both patients and clinicians at its many facilities.
Organization was key to Guthrie’s massive move to the virtual setting. IT set up accounts through Eko’s simple portal. Providers can easily access the live streams from remote locations. Once clinicians were shown how to physically use the device, the transition was fast and streamlined
Guthrie was able to shift about 400 providers in 10 days to a virtual environment that employed the Eko CORE for physical exams. Out of those 400 providers, about 335 of them were active within those first 10 days, seeing patients immediately.
When one of Guthrie’s nursing homes in New York was hit with a COVID-19 outbreak, the organization quickly sent the facility several CORE stethoscopes and iPads. Within 36 hours, caretakers at the nursing home were using the CORE on patients, as providers listened in to vital sounds in real-time.
When a provider needed to quarantine for 14 days, Guthrie dispatched a CORE and an iPad to the clinic, allowing that provider to see patients from home.
Now that the curve in New York and Pennsylvania has flattened, Guthrie continues to use telemedicine, averaging anywhere from 150 to 200 patients per day. Before COVID, only about 40 patient visits per month were virtual.
Today, Guthrie is using Eko for both inpatient and outpatient settings. Patients in nursing homes are being seen by providers remotely. And patients who visit primary care clinics in their home towns are being seen by specialists at Guthrie hospitals through telemedicine.
Patient satisfaction for Guthrie’s model of telehealth is high. In a survey, 99.5% of patients said they would recommend telemedicine to their family and friends based on their experience with Guthrie telehealth.