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Telehealth Utilization in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Current State of Medical Provider Training.

  • DuBose-Morris, Ragan1
  • Coleman, Christina2
  • Ziniel, Sonja I3, 4
  • Schinasi, Dana A5
  • McSwain, S David6
  • 1 Center for Telehealth, Center of Excellence, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
  • 2 Pediatrics Critical Care, College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
  • 3 Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, Colorado, USA.
  • 4 Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA.
  • 5 Telehealth Programs, Department of Pediatrics, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
  • 6 Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
Published Article
Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2022
DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2021.0381
PMID: 34967677


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the development of telehealth services and thus the need for telehealth education and training to support rapid implementation at scale. A national survey evaluating the current state of the telehealth landscape was deployed to organizational representatives, and included questions related to education and training. Materials and Methods: In the summer of 2020, 71 survey participants (31.8%) completed an online survey seeking to determine the utilization of telehealth services across institutional types and locations. This included data collected to specifically compare the rates and types of formal telehealth education provided before and during the pandemic. Results: Thirty percent of organizations reported no telehealth training before COVID-19, with those in suburban/rural settings significantly less likely to provide any training (55% vs. 82%) compared with urban. Pandemic-related training changes applied to 78% of organizations, with more change happening to those without any training before COVID-19 (95%). Generally, organizations offering training before the pandemic reported deploying COVID-19-related telehealth services, while a higher percentage of those without any training beforehand reported that they either did not plan on providing these services or were in the early planning stages. Discussion: Telehealth education is moving from elective to essential based on the need to prepare and certify the workforce to support high-quality telehealth services. Conclusions: As telehealth continues to evolve to meet the future health care service needs of patients and providers, education and training will advance to meet the needs of everyday clinical encounters and broader public health initiatives.

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