Inpatient Telehealth and Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outcomes: Experiences in Alabama.

Academic Article


  • Background: During the early months of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, hospitals were concerned about preserving personal protective equipment. UAB Hospital Medicine designed a strategy to outfit acute care patient rooms on a COVID-19 unit with telemedicine technology to allow for remote clinician rounding. Objective: To describe one hospital's experience with inpatient telehealth and compare outcomes between patients with and without inpatient telehealth visits. Design and Methods: Retrospective chart review of patients admitted to UAB Hospital Medicine with COVID-19 between March 16, 2020 and April 24, 2020. Logistic and negative binomial regression models were used to examine the relationship between telehealth visits and the likelihood of a subsequent transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU), ventilation, and number of ICU days. Clinician interviews provided additional insight into the telehealth implementation. Findings: One-quarter of the patients received a telehealth visit. Half were admitted to the ICU, and one-third received ventilation. Regression models did not identify statistically significant differences in transfer to the ICU, number of ICU days, and ventilation between patients with and without telehealth visits. Older age and increased respiratory rate were associated with higher odds of ICU admission. Patients with a cough were associated with lower odds of ventilation and fewer ICU days. Discussion: Implementation challenges included difficulties associated with assisting patients with operating the tablets. However, clinicians noted that there was a great benefit to patients being able to see an unmasked physician. Furthermore, the telehealth program proved to be a viable strategy for connecting patients in isolation with their families. Findings can inform the future development of inpatient telemedicine strategies.
  • Keywords

  • COVID-19, Hospital Medicine, telehealth, telemedicine
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kennedy KC; Hearld KR; May B; Hall AG; Feldman SS; McKnight K; Kraus A; Feng W; Opoku-Agyeman W
  • Start Page

  • 148
  • End Page

  • 155
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 1