NYP-Weill Cornell telehealth program slashes ER times for patients with minor complaints

The initiative has been so successful that plans are underway to expand it into more hospitals.
By Jessica Davis
03:05 PM

On July 15, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital launched the NYP-Weill Cornell ED Telehealth Express Care Service. Today,  just two months later, the organization has enrolled 100 patients and slashed the average ER visit from four hours to only 30 minutes for patients with minor complaints.

In fact, the program has been so successful, NYP plans to expand the telehealth service to NYP Lower Manhattan Hospital.

The goal was to provide another safe and efficient option for patients in the ER with minor complaints, such as a cold or a wound, according to Rahul Sharma, MD, emergency physician-in-chief for Emergency Medicine at Weill Cornell.

Initially, patients with minor complaints would have to wait for about two hours, Sharma explained. Today, they’re added to a fast track area.

“Obviously there are some complaints that require a physician to touch the patient,” he added. “These patients are screened in triage and seen by a nurse practitioner or clinician before they go into the room.”

Regardless of the condition or ailment, all patients go through a formal screening process, Sharma said. There is a tight list of criteria that would allow a patient to move into the separate room to see an NYP provider via a telehealth monitor.

“The process allows us to provide more efficient care and improve their experience,” Sharma said. “You need to make sure you don’t sacrifice the quality of care.”

All telehealth providers are from NYP, board certified and formally trained, he added, the front end staff is also trained on how to screen for the appropriate criteria for the fast-track area.

And feedback from patients has been “overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

Initially, the hours of operation began with four hours, which the organization hopes to move into six hours and eventually 16 hours of coverage. Not only does NYP plan to expand the program at its main site, it also plans to expand the program into its other campuses. And that’s just phase one.

The success of the initial stage has prompted NYP to think about building an on-demand service app that patients can use to call from home – instead of heading to urgent care or emergency department.

While the project is still in its early stages, he said: “Eventually it will allow physicians to spend more time with patients.”

“Healthcare is changing day by day. Patients are now empowered to make choices they never were before,” said Sharma. “This is just another example of how when you combine innovation with health, you can come up with great solutions. It’s just a new innovative combination that has proven to be successful.”

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com

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