MU Researcher Documents Shift to Telehealth During COVID-19 Pandemic

Photo of Telehealth Call

MU Health Care's rapid adoption of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic is now documented in an article published in the journal "Preventing Chronic Disease" and included on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Jane McElroy, PhD
Jane McElroy, PhD

Lead author Jane McElroy, PhD, associate professor of family and community medicine, detailed in the article the multipronged approach used in Missouri to provide quick response to the pandemic along with changes made to foster an environment that allowed for the widespread adoption of telemedicine.

"Prior to March, MU Health Care primary care providers had no telehealth visits," McElroy said. "By April, that number had increased to nearly 90%. The success of the rapid adjustment and response was due to MU Health Care's dedicated workforce, strong collaborative learning network, expertise in rural health and robust telehealth infrastructure."

Beyond the local response to the pandemic, the Missouri Telehealth Network's Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (Show-Me ECHO) established case-based remote learning programs on COVID-19 and telehealth designed for doctors, nurses and other health care providers across the state. The programs are especially valuable for providers in rural and underserved communities.

"Without COVID-19's disruption of the status quo of health care, it's unlikely that this transformation would have occurred," McElroy said.

While the pandemic has forced MU Health Care to tap into creative health care approaches, McElroy sees the need to further explore additional telehealth barriers for vulnerable populations.

Other contributors to the article include Mirna Becevic, PhD, assistant research professor at the MU School of Medicine; and Tamara Day, MSN, RN, coordinator of nursing research.