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Authors

  1. Teng, Kathryn MD
  2. Russo, Francesca BA
  3. Kanuch, Stephanie MeD
  4. Caron, Aleece PhD

Abstract

Telehealth and virtual care quickly became important tools in caring for patients while the COVID-19 pandemic evolved. Telehealth implementation can increase affordability for patients, eliminate access barriers, and improve patient satisfaction. Multiple challenges to successful telehealth implementation have been documented in the literature and are generally categorized as structural barriers of the health system, clinical barriers of the provider, and patient-centered barriers. In this study, we sought to collect themes and observations about this rapid transition to telehealth from practicing primary care clinicians, with the goal of identifying opportunities to improve adoption of telehealth. Themes reported in this article emerged from physician and physician assistant fellows of 2 HRSA-funded grants: (1) Primary Care Training and Enhancement (PCTE) and (2) Primary Care Training and Enhancement Training Primary Care Champions (Champions). The PCTE participants consisted of 8 providers from The MetroHealth System (MHS). The Champions participants consisted of 20 providers from MHS and Federally Qualified Health Centers in Northeast Ohio and Michigan. Participants identified 5 major themes that affected telehealth delivery in an academic medical system: reimbursement and productivity; social determinants of health; privacy and environment of care concerns; teaching; and communication skills. Examples within each theme are provided along with an identified improvement opportunity. As we create solutions to address these challenges, our hope is to pool our experience with others so that we can collectively learn how to best evolve and improve the telehealth experience for all.