Johns Hopkins University: Johns Hopkins Medicine Marks 1 Million Telemedicine Visits During COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past 16 months, Johns Hopkins Medicine has conducted more than 1 million telemedicine visits for patients across the nation. This is a significant milestone, considering how quickly health care systems had to scale remote services to maintain vital connections to patients.

Although telemedicine has been an established care option for some time, prior to the pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine was conducting approximately 100 telemedicine visits per month at its six hospitals in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Florida and at more than 40 community physician locations. By April 2020, the number of telemedicine appointments exceeded more than 90,000 — accounting for more than half of all outpatient care at Johns Hopkins Medicine at the time.

Telemedicine care not only aided in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by enabling virtual access to essential care for patients; it also accommodated patients who did not want to travel for care for fear of exposure risk. Additionally, telemedicine gave medical providers insight into their patients’ home environments, which assisted in building stronger patient to provider relationships. Telemedicine’s audio-only option provided essential care to underserved communities. Audio only is a vital option for disadvantaged, low-income and elderly people who have limited access to broadband internet services and cell phone data plans.

“This historical milestone marks a defining moment for telemedicine services at Johns Hopkins Medicine and for health care as a whole,” says Brian Hasselfeld, M.D., medical director, Digital Health and Telemedicine for the Office of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “The pandemic has made us acknowledge the importance of creating flexible and innovative alternatives to traditional care models and has helped us continue to explore the future of patient care.”

While Johns Hopkins Medicine plans to continue to leverage the benefits of technology-enabled care, “we recognize that the most challenging work lies ahead, as we strive to promote policies that will result in more equitable telemedicine delivery to our patients,” adds Helen Hughes, M.D., M.P.H., assistant medical director for Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Office of Telemedicine and medical director of Pediatric Telemedicine for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.