Clinical Center dials into telehealth
New tool keeps patients and care teams connected
What can you do when you have patients who need medical care, but you're in the middle of a pandemic. For many healthcare providers, the solution was increasing access to telehealth, and the NIH Clinical Center was no exception.
The importance of staying connected to patients during a health crisis meant that telehealth became an important tool overnight. Implementing this task was the Clinical Center's Health Information Management Division (HIMD) who provide support for both NIH care teams and patients.
Spurred by the pandemic, telehealth appointments at the Clinical Center skyrocketed from fewer than 100 a month in April 2020 to more than 630 a month in 2022.
As the telehealth service evolves, the Clinical Center transitioned to a new telehealth platform, called ThinkAndor, on March 1, 2023. The new platform supports virtual visits, virtual rounding, virtual waiting room, and in the future will add the ability to securely transmit questionnaires to patients based on scheduled appointments (for example, MRI screening questionnaires) as well as remote patient monitoring for clinical research studies.
The Section on Developmental Neurogenomics, a part of the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) Human Genetics Branch, was an early adopter of the new telehealth platform and found it was an easy transition.
"[T]he user interface is familiar, simple and intuitive," said Jonathan Blumenthal, a research psychologist with NIMH.
"The team supporting Andor has been very responsive with setting up appointments, even at the last minute, and very helpful with early troubleshooting."
The system provides several tools that help care teams and researchers connect with patients and their colleagues.
The platform enables clinicians to move patients to a waiting room so the care team can discussion plans of care and other items and then bring the patient back to the visit when final decisions have been made. Robust dashboards support data reporting the number of successful telehealth visits completed along with length of time spent in visits.
The platform allows care teams to connect virtually to conduct rounds without the need for other platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom or WebEx. Teams may meet through the platform to promote social distancing and connectivity for team members who aren't in the Clinical Center. The platform supports real-time connections with individual patients and their family members as well as team-based rounding. The Clinical Center provides "iPads on sticks" for teams to wheel to the bedside while conducting virtual rounding.
Virtual Waiting Room
The platform provides patients with automated, electronic, secure messages via text messages and email about scheduled appointments. Reminders are sent to patients two days prior to scheduled appointments and then 30 minutes prior to appointments with a link that can be used to remotely check in for an appointment once they arrive at the Clinical Center. Once checked in, patients may wait in their desired location (car, coffee shop, atrium or elsewhere) and will receive another electronic message once the care team is ready to see them. The dashboard provides functionality for patient care staff to push out additional messages to the patient alerting them if the care team is running late or other unusual circumstances. If patients have multiple appointments on one day, other patient care locations will be able to see the status of the patient and know if prior appointments have been completed.
Please reach out to the HIMD to learn more about this exciting new technology to help support your clinical research study programs and other patient care workflows.
For a full guide to the new platform, please visit our Telehealth Patient Resources or call the Telehealth Concierge Services Team at 1-855-644-6445.
- Donovan Kuehn