Deploying Telehealth to Combat COVID-19 at the Front Lines of Rural Health Care

Compiled image of three faces - Video chat style
Photo credit: Riverwood Healthcare Center

Telehealth visits have skyrocketed during the pandemic as hospitals and providers modify visiting policies and treatment options to ensure a safe environment for all. For rural hospitals, virtual health visits are improving access to quality care and transforming how they deliver health care now and into the future.

Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin, Minnesota, quickly deployed Zoom for business for virtual health visits in the early weeks of the pandemic. An AHA Members in Action case study describes lessons learned by Riverwood leaders and practitioners as the number of patients using telehealth increased substantially. Recommendations include:

  • using project management skills to ensure a strategic, streamlined process;
  • planning structured, daily huddles so providers are prepared;
  • training clinicians in advance;
  • recruiting and mobilizing a physician champion; and
  • focusing on partnerships to share best practices and resources.

Telehealth visits have been embraced by patients and their families in Aitkin County and surrounding communities, and the Riverwood website highlights patients’ comments and success stories. These patients appreciate the convenience of telehealth — scheduling an appointment during a lunch break or avoiding long travel times — and know that connecting with a clinician while staying in their own home limits their exposure to infectious diseases, especially during flu season.

Related Resources

John Riggi, AHA senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk, testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on defending…
Leadership Rounds
Please join AHA Board Chair Melinda Estes, M.D., for the ninth in a series of Leadership Rounds — short conversations on a range of key issues Dr. Estes will…
The AHA asks the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take additional steps to increase flexibilities for providers responding to the COVID-19…
Advancing Health Podcast
In this podcast, AJ Rolle, Senior Program Manager at the AHA, moderates a discussion between Marc Berejka, Director of Government & Community Affairs at…
Special Bulletin
In an open letter to the American public, the AHA, along with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, today affirmed their support…
Special Bulletin
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Nov. 25 announced several flexibilities aimed at allowing health care services to be provided outside of…