Notable Heroes in Health Care: Ascension Wisconsin clinicians

400 W. River Woods Parkway, Glendale

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems scrambled to optimize virtual care to continue caring for patients during a unique time of social distancing.

To proactively reach patients most at risk, Ascension Wisconsin clinicians coordinated with IT to sort medical records and identify people who were at higher risk for hospitalization if they contracted COVID-19.

Using the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and certain diagnosis codes the technology team scored patients and the clinical team contacted patients based on their risk score.

Those who had not been seen recently were encouraged to set up a virtual visit with their provider.

From mid-March to June 1, 2020, Ascension Wisconsin clinicians provided more than 107,300 virtual care visits. That number is even higher, today.

More than 1,000 providers and specialists across the state now offer virtual care visits so patients can feel supported and safe during an unprecedented time.

Early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the highest risk patients for COVID-19 were those with chronic illnesses with one or more comorbidities, including: diabetes, hypertension, older than 65, liver and/or lung disease.

The team at Ascension Wisconsin quickly developed tools that would guide clinicians during a telehealth visit. This included critical questions related to mental health, sleep habits, lifestyle, exercise and whether they are interacting with others in meaningful ways.

Based on their responses, medications could be adjusted or changed and even delivered directly to them. In some cases, the physician might determine that a virtual visit with a behavioral health professional would be beneficial.

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