Penn Medicine marked its millionth telemedicine visit since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this week.
Visits increased by more than 9,000% between 2019 and the period from March 2020 to February 2021 as a result of the pandemic. To accommodate the growing need for virtual medical services, Penn rolled out a series of initiatives, including programs to monitor patients virtually.
The Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has made efforts to provide pregnant patients with electronic blood pressure meters so they can be monitored from home, Penn Medicine News reported. In August of 2020, Penn was also granted $2.5 million for COVID Watch, a program to help monitor the symptoms of patients with COVID-19 virtually.
Penn’s Center for Connected Care, which opened in 2018, is one of the largest telehealth centers in the country, but there are still concerns regarding the implementation of telehealth services.
An August 2020 study found disparities in telemedicine use for cardiac care based on race, age, and language. Non-English speaking patients had a less than 50% telemedicine use rate, and female patients also showed lower rates of telemedicine use.
Still, Penn Medicine plans to continue to offer telemedicine even after COVID-19 subsides.
“While many have returned to in-person care, we believe a multitude of visits can permanently remain as telehealth experiences for the convenience of our patients,” C. William Hanson III, Penn Medicine’s chief medical information officer, told Penn Medicine News.