Telehealth Solutions for In-hospital Communication with Patients Under Isolation During COVID-19
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2020.5.4778910.5811/westjem.2020.5.47789
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a public health crisis that has quickly overwhelmed our healthcare system. It has led to significant shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and intensive care unit beds across the nation. As the initial entry point for patients with suspected COVID illness, emergency departments (ED) have had to adapt quickly to prioritize the safety of patients and providers while still delivering optimal, timely patient care. COVID-19 has presented many challenges for the ED that also extend to all inpatient services. Some of these key challenges are the fundamental tasks of communicating with patients in respiratory isolation while minimizing PPE usage and enabling all patients who have been affected by hospitals’ visitor restrictions to connect with their families. We discuss the design principles behind implementing a robust in-hospital telehealth system for patient-provider and patient-family communication, provide a review of the strengths and weaknesses of potential videoconferencing options, and deliver concise, step-by-step guides for setting up a secure, low-cost, user-friendly solution that can be rapidly deployed.