IU Health utilizing telehealth amid COVID-19 surge

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Virtual care has existed at IU Health for years.

“We pride ourselves in helping and leading the way in telehealth,” Katie Synder, the director of virtual care at IU Health, said.

But things quickly took off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that IU Health opened a virtual screening clinic for its employees and the public.

“It guided them in the correct care,” Snyder said. “Do they need a test? Do they not need a test? Do they need to go to the emergency room?”

The clinics served as a protection barrier until vaccines were widely available. IU Health has reached the one million mark in virtual visits, and there are no plans of slowing down.

“We’ve also seen an uptick in other virtual visit types that we provide,” Snyder said. “For example, we have on-demand care where we provide urgent and nonurgent issues 24/7, 365 to patients trying to really relieve the pressure on the emergency rooms and the urgent cares.”

It also launched the “Hospital at Home” program. It’s designed for some providers to care for less severe COVID cases at home while providers in the hospital can focus on treating sicker patients in-person.

“It allows providers to be able to do what providers are trained to do, which is to diagnose and treat, — as well as educate — patients,” Snyder said. “We’ve been able to streamline and allow providers to work more efficiently using telemedicine.”

“On Demand” is another platform where patients can book virtual appointments and schedule same-day appointments through an app.

“If you can do an on-demand visit with someone first before going to the ER, we are going to save you money and you can be diagnosed the same day,” Snyder said. “If it is determined you need to go to the emergency room, that is where you would go.”

IU Health says virtual visits will remain a part of the overall landscape of healthcare post-COVID-19.