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Haun JN, Panaite V, Cotner BA, Melillo C, Venkatachalam HH, Fowler CA, Zilka B, Messina W. Provider reported value and use of virtual resources in extended primary care prior to and during COVID-19. BMC health services research. 2022 Nov 15; 22(1):1353.
BACKGROUND: A proactive approach to delivering care using virtual resources, while reducing in-person contact, is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. OBJECTIVE: In the current study we describe pre- to post- COVID-19 pandemic onset related changes in electronic delivery of primary care. METHODS: A longitudinal, pre-post within-subjects design was used. Patient-aligned care team providers from one VA medical center, a primary care annex, and four affiliated community-based outpatient clinics completed both a baseline and follow up survey (N = 62) or the follow-up survey only (N = 85). The follow-up survey contained questions about COVID-19. RESULTS: The majority of providers (88%) reported they would continue virtual care once pandemic restrictions were lifted. Most (83%) felt prepared to transition to virtual care when pandemic restrictions began. Use of My HealtheVet, Telehealth, and mobile apps showed a significant increase (22.7%; 31.1%; 48.5%). Barriers to virtual care included (1) internet connectivity; (2) patients' lack of technology comfort and skills; and (3) technical issues. Main supports to provide virtual care to patients were (1) peers/ colleagues; (2) technology support through help desk; (3) equipment such as laptops and dual screens; (4) being able to use doximety and virtual care manager, and (5) training. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, provider-use and perceptions related to using virtual care improved over time. Providers adapted quickly to providing virtual care during COVID-19 and planned to provide virtual care long-term.