Telemedicine for veterans in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned from a virtual urgent care center

Veronica Sikka, Christian King, Suzanne Klinker, Theresa Mont, Bonnie Sommers-Olson, Bruce E. Hunt, Stacey Davis, Jennifer Fonseca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Although telemedicine was predominantly adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on healthcare outcomes in the veteran population in achieving first contact resolution, or the ability to safely manage patient care at home from an urgent care perspective, is yet to be determined. Methods: This study included 13,090 veteran patient episodes who presented to the Department of Veteran's Affairs Veterans Integrated Services Network 8's Clinical Contact Center, a virtual urgent care organization covering South Georgia, Florida, and U.S. Virgin Islands in providing episodic care, between March 2020 and February 2021. Multivariate logistic regression estimated the probability that veterans with COVID-19-related symptoms stayed at home compared to presenting to the emergency department (ED) or their primary care provider. Results: Patients with COVID-related symptoms were 33% less likely to present to the ED compared to patients who presented with non-COVID-related symptoms. Discussion: The virtual urgent care center enabled veterans to receive timely care and avoid public places that could potentially lead to a COVID-19 infection or infecting others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • pandemic
  • telecare
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine
  • veteran health
  • virtual care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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