Key Takeaways from May 19th Broadband and Beyond Webinar: Telehealth in Response to COVID-19

IEI is partnering with the Roanoke Electric Cooperative on a series of three “Broadband and Beyond” webinars which aim to educate and provide resources about the digital divide during COVID-19.

The third and last webinar in the series was held on Tuesday, May 19th on Telehealth in response to COVID-19. Guest speakers included two experts from the North Carolina Office of Rural Health: Lakeisha Moore, Rural Health Information Technology (HIT) Program Manager and Nick Galvez, Rural Hospital Manager, as well as Kim Schwartz, CEO of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center. 

 

Key takeaways:

  • There are many different kinds of Telehealth. Many people (author included) think about telehealth as a simple video conference between you and your health care provider, but videoconference is only one kind of telehealth. Others include: 
    • Mobile Health (mHealth): Medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices. Mobile devices include smartphones and tablets, as well as devices that provide real-time patient monitoring like FitBits and other wearables.
    • Store and Forward: Collects clinical information and sends it electronically to another site for evaluation. Information typically includes demographic data, medical history, documents such as laboratory reports, and image, video and/or sound files.
    • Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): Uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations.

 

  • Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center is meeting its patients where they are at (even if that’s on their sofa at home). Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) was able to quickly adjust to a changing world. By Tuesday, March 24, they converted all of their scheduled patient care visits to telephone and telehealth visits. For the nearly 50% of patients who don’t have access to WiFI,they’ve converted their parking lot into a WiFi hotspot so patients can get their vitals taken by clinical staff and then connect to their doctor on a secure wifi network in their cars. Learn more about RCCHC’s response HERE

 

  • Access to broadband, devices and digital skills remain a challenge. Even though we are seeing a huge increase in Telehealth service in the state (more than 80% of practices report conducting Telehealth visits since COVID-19), access to broadband and devices make it hard for healthcare providers to serve their patients. Digital skills add another layer to this challenge. If patients don’t know how to use a computer, tablet, or smartphone, they may be less likely to try to connect to their doctor right now. Addressing access to the internet, devices and skills is imperative to increasing access to Telehealth. 

For more information about the Broadband and Beyond Series and for a recording of this webinar, please visit the Roanoke Electric website HERE.