Preserving Multidisciplinary Care Model and Patient Safety During Reopening of Ambulatory Cystic Fibrosis Clinic for Nonurgent Care: A Hybrid Telehealth Model

Telemed J E Health. 2020 Sep 14. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2020.0247. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The University of Virginia's (UVA's) adult cystic fibrosis (CF) program implemented a rapid and successful transition to telemedicine care mid-March of 2020 in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In May 2020, the adult UVA CF program redesigned the care model to adjust to the reopening of ambulatory operations and introduced hybrid clinics. The goal remained to minimize person-to-person contacts for patients and care team members (CTMs) while ensuring patient access to quarterly, coproduced, synchronous, multidisciplinary CF care, similar to pre-COVID-19 era regular CF care. Methods: Using quality improvement tools, the UVA adult CF program created a standardized hybrid model of care for in-clinic visits, which included combined components of in-person and synchronous virtual interactions with members of the multidisciplinary team. Results: A total of 16 hybrid visits occurred between May 14 and June 11, 2020. All hybrid visits were multidisciplinary and fulfilled patient requests to see CTMs. All patients seen by hybrid encounter participated in coproduced agenda setting, underwent spirometry, and obtained blood work; 75% provided sputum for surveillance culture. Each hybrid visit type was attended by an average of four CTMs and amounted to 63 separate interactions. Of these interactions, 28 were completed virtually, reducing in-person contacts and personal protection equipment utilization by 44% compared with a fully in-person model of care. Conclusions: Combining in-person and telehealth components in a multidisciplinary CF care model reduces patient and staff interactions and personal protective equipment utilization. The hybrid model of in-person/remote combined care enables reliable access to biological data to support medical decision making while mitigating the risks of person-to-person contact for patients and staff.

Keywords: COVID-19; cystic fibrosis; e-health; pandemic; telehealth; telemedicine.