Expansion of telehealth in primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic: benefits and barriers

J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2021 Jun 7. doi: 10.1097/JXX.0000000000000626. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remarkably accelerated the adoption of telemedicine in outpatient settings. Out of necessity, virtual care became a preferred and default modality of extending primary care services to health care consumers. Although telemedicine is not a new concept and had been used in many organizations and health systems, the COVID-19 pandemic scaled up its use in a variety of health care settings. Telehealth’s use in primary care was particularly important because of the need to maintain continuity of care for successful coordination of chronic disease management. This article examines the benefits of telehealth, including continuity of care, convenience of access to care, screening and triaging, and social distancing and disease prevention. The utilization of telehealth and financial implications are discussed, including reimbursement and cost-effectiveness. Barriers and challenges are addressed, including methods for successful implementation of nurse practitioner (NP) in primary care practices as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The leadership role of the NP in telehealth is discussed and implementation guidance is provided.

PMID:34107501 | DOI:10.1097/JXX.0000000000000626